Oxfam's Agriculture campaign
Rising food prices cause riots in different countries; biofuel crops are competing for land with food crops; the risk of widespread hunger is increasing across the world. Why is this happening?
Men and women across the world depend on rural areas for their income: from agricultural laborers in the United States to pastoralists in Tanzania; from maize farmers in Central America to fisher-folk in East Asia. Women are particularly reliant on agriculture for their livelihoods. In poverty-stricken areas, agriculture provides food security and jobs that aren’t available elsewhere.
Yet, for more than two decades, agriculture has been irresponsibly neglected, as investment by governments and donors has declined. Ownership of land has become more concentrated. Changes in food markets pose new challenges for small farmers. And labor, sometimes the only asset of landless workers, is poorly paid. Unfair trade rules have left small producers and waged agricultural workers in a perilous state.
Women are the main food producers. Yet decision-makers still believe that women are minor players in agriculture. And, to make things more difficult, women carry an enormous burden of household and caring work, that limits the time and resources they have to dedicate to agriculture.
Now is the time
Now agriculture is back on the public agenda, and it’s about time! More than any other sector, investment in agriculture produces results. And investing in women’s agricultural livelihoods can really make a difference in our efforts to reduce poverty while at the same time upholding their rights. But the challenges can’t be underestimated: environmental degradation, climate change, new technologies and skyrocketing energy prices all have an impact on poor farmers and workers.
Governments, international institutions and businesses make choices that can cause upheavals in the daily lives of people who struggle to make a living in rural areas.