New Report Showcases Agricultural Innovations

State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, is being released by the Worldwatch Institute at a press launch in New York today.

It is nearly a half-century since the ‘green revolution’, and yet a large share of the human family is still chronically hungry. Since the mid-1980s when agricultural funding was at its height, the share of global development aid has fallen from over 16% to just 4% today. Drawing from the world’s leading agricultural experts and from hundreds of innovations that are already working on the ground, State of the World 2011 aims to help the funding and development community reverse this trend.

From oyster farmers in The Gambia to school gardens in Uganda to rotational grazing in Zimbabwe, State of the World 2011 draws from hundreds of case studies and first-person examples to offer solutions to reducing hunger and poverty.

In The Gambia, some 6,000 women organised into the TRY Women’s Oyster Harvesting producer association, creating a sustainable co-management plan for the local oyster fishery to prevent over-harvesting and exploitation. The government is working with groups like TRY to promote less destructive methods and to expand credit facilities to low-income producers to stimulate investment in more sustainable production.

In Uganda, the Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) programme is integrating indigenous vegetable gardens, nutrition information and food preparation into the school curriculum to teach children how to grow local crop varieties that will help combat food shortages and revitalise the country’s culinary traditions. And in South Africa and Kenya, pastoralists are preserving indigenous varieties of livestock that are adapted to the heat and drought of local conditions ñ traits that will be crucial as climate extremes on the continent worsen.

The report includes a chapter on reducing food waste, written by Tristram Stewart. It also features a chapter written by Dianne Forte, Royce Gloria Androa and Marie-Ange Binwaho, on how addressing the unique needs of women farmers – who in many parts of the continent represent 80% of small scale farmers – can improve livelihoods and diets for entire communities.

State of the World 2011 provides new insight into the under-appreciated innovations that are working right now on the ground to alleviate hunger and deserving of more funding and attention.

Today’s press launch is the first of several events being held and will feature remarks from co-project directors Danielle Nierenberg and Brian Halweil, as well as Worldwatch president, Christopher Flavin. Worldwatch is an independent research organisation based in Washington, that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than 20 languages.