Agriculture can drive growth and development. And there is general consensus that there is enough food to feed everyone on the planet. But instead, food prices are rising. Biofuel crops are competing for land with food crops. The risk of widespread hunger is increasing across the world.

Agriculture and livelihoods

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.

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.

What needs to happen

The situation is very complex. What happens to farmers and agricultural workers varies from country to country. Nonetheless, there are some common solutions.

Oxfam is pressing governments and international institutions to invest in agriculture in ways that promote food security, for instance through crop diversification and more sustainable water management. This will help reduce the proportion of their budget families spend on food.

Ensuring secure access to land and its fair distribution – especially to women – is essential for sustainable agriculture. Oxfam works to support organizations of small-scale farmers who need access to markets in order to sell what surplus they can grow.

Action needed now

Read more about our support for small-scale farmers, and what you can do now to help.