Österreichische Caritaszentrale - Caritas Austria

SAFBIN (Smallholder Adaptive Farming and Biodiversity Network)

Lead Organization

Österreichische Caritaszentrale - Caritas Austria

Wien, Wien, Austria


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Project Summary

Hunger and malnutrition remains the darkest spot putting shame to all development gains. South Asia has the highest concentration of extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition. In spite of being the globe’s main food providers, smallholder farmers’ suffer the most. Small farms, despite exhibiting higher diversity, productivity and efficiency, are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, market as well as lack access and control over their resources and entitlements.A team of seven national Caritas organisations, in intensive cooperation with research institutes and local authorities, will contribute to reduce food insecurity and climate change vulnerability of 40.000 smallholder households in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Farm production and income will be doubled; capacities to consume balanced diets improved; land tenure security and capacities for adaptation to climate change enhanced. Furthermore, smallholder families’ environment around policy, research, extension and market relations will be improved.

Problem Statement

Manifestations and implications of the problems around food and nutritional security (FNS) are disproportionately linked to poor in general and Smallholder Farmers (SHF) in particular, who are connected in either way, as producer and consumer, often losing at both ends.South Asia presents an enigma where macroeconomic growth, increase in household income and dramatic progress in many development indicators, coexist with persistent hunger and malnutrition. SA has now highest concentration of extreme poverty, hunger [1] and malnutrition with a very poor Human Development Index [2]. More than half of the population of SA live out of farming, which remains the main employer. Yet, high external input agriculture has resulted in the marginalisation of smallholder farmers (SHF), increased environmental degradation, erosion of agro-biodiversity and decreasing nutritional access from local food. With increasing farmers’ suicides and farmers’ exodus, the region is experiencing a farming and food crisis. Problems related to food and nutritional security are complex and interconnected with stagnant farm income, lacking farmers’ access and control over farm-resources, reduced small-farm resilience and increasing vulnerabilities to climate change, inadequate attention of support from policy, research and other stakeholders and lack of linkage between the urban consumers and small producers, affecting their health and wealth, respectively.

Solution Overview

With a clear focus on smallholders in South Asia, SAFBIN addresses their concrete problems while aiming at contributing to broader, transboundary goals: To contribute to SDG2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture). SAFBIN offers a solution to food and nutrition insecurity of poor smallholder farmers by adopting a system approach (social, ecological and economic). With its participatory “Farmers First” approach SAFBIN will work with 40.000 households in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar around issues of production & income; nutrition; rights & entitlements; resilience & climate change adaptation; and value chain & consumer connectivity.In SAFBIN, it is collectives of small-farmers themselves, mostly women, who are the decision makers: they will lead on-farm adaptive research and organize value-chain interventions with support of researchers, extension workers, local governments and market. In conjunction with urban middle class consumers, farmers-collectives would establish viable short supply chains around local bio-diverse foods in alliance with entrepreneurs and use technology innovations to promote sustainable production and consumption systems. Multi-stakeholders’ involvement (e.g. local authorities, research) would augment knowledge and resources while also catalyzing systemic policy and institutional changes around resource rights, market and research-extension environments. SAFBIN’s regional approach provides opportunities for larger knowledge sharing and wide-scaling. Ongoing monitoring from programme level to village level will be done by the team using a chosen data collection system – this ensures to measure progress and allow for steering measures in case it is necessary.

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