Make agricultural research count, CABI tells UN
Press release, 21 September 2010
In advance of the UK’s statement on Wednesday 22 September, science and agriculture organization CABI (Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International) has called upon members of the UN to maintain or increase funding for agricultural research as part of their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target 2015.
In a statement published on CABI’s website this morning, Chief Executive Dr Trevor Nicholls argues that agriculture, food, and nutrition underpin all the other MDGs – including MDG5, improving maternal health, which Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has promised will be the focus of UK funding.
“Improvements in maternal and child health will be much more difficult to achieve in populations who do not have access to sufficient quantities of food with adequate nutritional quality. Effectiveness of vaccines and anti-AIDS drugs is much reduced in such groups and they are at greater risk of chronic health problems as well as opportunistic infections. Under-nourished children do less well at school whilst low incomes for poor rural farmers will mean that they are unable to afford the treatment or medicines needed for themselves and their families,” says Dr Nicholls.
He also says that greater efforts are needed to ensure that progress reaches the very poorest people: “Much of the hand-wringing about food production in developing countries skirts around this central problem: that even though existing research findings can address many of today’s problems, we still do not get the information in a practical format to those who need it most – the smallholders and communities that are the backbone of local food production. This failure to transfer knowledge effectively forms one of the biggest barriers preventing progress on the MDGs and enabling them to benefit the poorest sections of the population.”
Dr Nicholls concludes, “We appeal to UN governments to recognize the fundamental importance of agriculture in underpinning all the other MDGs and to increase funding for programmes that put research into use in relation to agriculture, food, and nutrition.”