Franshesco is a 52-year-old cocoa farmer from Honduras; 34-year-old Silverio plants pine trees in the highlands of Peru; and 18-year-old Gezime works in a greenhouse in Kosovo. Thanks to SDC programmes which contribute to the reduction of poverty and hunger, they have all succeeded in improving their quality of life. At the special exhibition – where the SDC showcases its various activities – visitors can talk to some of the SDC staff members present and obtain an overview of the bigger picture. In addition, younger visitors will have the opportunity to take part in a quiz and test their painting skills.
The SDC helps farmers gain access to markets
Whether in the north of Laos, in Honduras, in Kosovo or in the South Caucasus: if farmers can sell their products for a decent price, they will produce more than their family or village community consumes, and thus contribute to the food supplies of society as a whole and have enough left over for times of scarcity. The challenges are however considerable: to achieve all of the above, access to markets and investment is necessary, and yet millions of farmers remain excluded from local, regional and national markets. Among other things, there is a lack of infrastructure, incentives and protection from competition. Cheap finished products from developed countries often have easier access to markets of the South than local products.
The SDC provides farmers with assistance in developing cooperatives and better organisational structures so that their products can at least find their way to the local market. In Honduras, higher yield cocoa plants help boost incomes; in Georgia this can be done with dry fodder for cattle. A programme in Kosovo provides training to teach farmers how to process their products for better preservation. This also helps to create jobs for people like Gezime.
Distribution and climate change as additional challenges
Hunger is much more than merely a lack of food. High food prices and armed conflict can often cause people to suffer from hunger in places where food is actually in plentiful supply. The SDC's Swiss Humanitarian Aid Department therefore distributes high-energy emergency food rations in refugee camps in Africa, for example.
Climate change is creating enormous challenges for agriculture all over the world. In the Andes, the SDC assists people from the local population, such as Silverio, in adapting to the already visible signs of climate change, by such means as planting trees, for example. In Benin, where 10-20% of the grain harvest is lost to insects and mould during storage, the SDC is testing the introduction of simple metal silos which can help to minimise those losses.
Smallholder and subsistence farmers, shepherds and fishermen are the people who lay the foundations for feeding the globe. 500 million small family farms produce some 50% of all food in the world. Agriculture remains today the most important source of income and the largest sector of the economy worldwide. One third of all working people are employed in agriculture – but, at the same time, it is that sector that also comprises roughly 70% of the world’s poor. Better cultivation methods, in most cases simple improvements in technology and skills, more suitable seed varieties, and various agro-ecological strategies, have tremendous potential for increasing productivity and sustainability. They help ensure that the additional food produced is available where it is actually needed.
Address for enquiries:
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47