|Land , Water and Livelihoods
“Bright Spots”: A Shining Example of Improved Yields, Income and Livelihoods
Greater food production in the past has come at the expense of biodiversity and ecosystem services that are often important to poor people’s livelihoods. When land productivity declines, so does food and livelihood security. Smallholders carry out 60 percent of global agriculture, and provide 80 percent of the food in developing countries. As most developing economies are not growing fast, it is not likely that income-earning opportunities will keep pace with population growth.
IWMI research under Theme 2, ” Land , Water and Livelihoods” shows that land and water productivity can be improved through the application of best practices and new technologies. IWMI contributed to the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture through its “Bright Spots” project in Central Asia, Africa and Southeast Asia. “Bright Spots” are areas where land and water degradation have been successfully reversed through interventions. They also stand for agricultural sustainability by maximizing on the use of ecological goods and services without permanently damaging these assets. Under Theme 2 research IWMI also wrote Chapter 15 of the Comprehensive Assessment under the title “Conserving Land – Protecting Water”.
Seventy-five percent of the additional food we would need over the next few decades could be met by bringing the production levels of the world’s low yield farmers up to eighty percent of what high yield farmers get from comparable land.
• Targeting smallholder farmers in both rainfed and irrigated areas offers the best chance for reducing poverty quickly in developing countries.
• The largest population of the world’s undernourished people is concentrated among smallholder agricultural groups. Therefore, it makes sense to intensify land and water sector development investments at this level.
• The importance of such a focus has also been highlighted in other strategy documents such as the 2004 Copenhagen Consensus.
• The smallholder unit is the single most promising sector for influencing land and water use management and having a visible, positive impact on rural livelihoods.