Food Security & Resilient Livelihoods

Notable advances and significant achievements have been made in recent decades to address poverty, food security, health and nutrition in developing countries. Notwithstanding these gains, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 805 million people are unable to meet their basic dietary requirements. In sub-Saharan Africa, 36% of children under 5 years old are stunted. In Asia, the corresponding figure is 27%.

Nowadays the linkages between poverty, food security, and nutrition are better understood as drivers of efforts to eradicate poverty amongst the most vulnerable and marginalized rural sectors.

Food and livelihood security for smallholder farmers is threatened by environmental factors, limited market integration, and population growth. Recent indications are that food production will have to be increased by 50–60% by 2050, when the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion. To meet this daunting task, smallholder farmers must move beyond subsistence agriculture into broad-based food, nutrition and income security, relying on more diverse livelihoods. Smallholders and family farms are primary target groups of IIRR’s food security and livelihood resilience initiatives.

Smallholder farms need to be more environmentally friendly, agro-ecologically sound, and economically productive. IIRR’s three decades of experience in testing, promoting, and sharing regenerative agriculture provides a variety of choices for a new focus on climate-smart agriculture (CSA). CSA addresses food and income security while helping reduce the carbon footprint of small farms and bringing tangible benefits to smallholder farmers and their communities.

IIRR’s livelihood resilience orientation recognizes that climate change will continue to mean more frequent and extreme weather events. Ways have to found to manage risks and mitigate the impacts of climate shocks.

A degraded natural resource base increases the vulnerability of local communities to the impacts of drought, extreme rain, floods, and other natural disasters. Appropriate community-centered approaches, featuring strong learning elements, can help promote out-scaling of models for bringing about the needed transformation on a scale that has larger and more lasting impact.

Key to this theme is building strong farmer institutions, integrating them into competitive value chains, and simultaneously strengthening partnerships with the private sector to upscale their value chains.


Potato Agri-business Clusters IIRR-IFDC Project

Highlights of Achievements in South Western Uganda Kisoro and Kanungu Districts-Uganda, 2014

  • Reached 35 farmer clusters (118 farmer groups, 57% of which were women farmers) comprising 6,125 beneficiaries
  • 87% of beneficiaries reduced production cost per acre of potato by 19%
  • Herbicide application reduced labor costs for land opening and weeding from UGX 230,000 ($90) /per acre to UGX 100,00 ($40)
  • Farmers earned extra US$2 per bag of sorted and graded potatoes as the result, compared to individually selling unsorted and ungraded potatoes
  • 7 sub-county cluster marketing committees legally registered
  • 23% increase in production and productivity from 9000 kg per acre to 11,760 after adopting improved farming practices
  • 23% increase in farmer gross incomes, from UGX 5,400,000 ($1862) per acre to UGX7,056,000 ($2433) as a result of agribusiness coaching
  • 1,335 farmers harvested 3,750,200kg (37,502 bags), collectively sold 3,040,500 kg (30,405 bags), earning a gross income of UGX1,998,698,000 ($ 689,206)
  • Farmers are collectively linked to input suppliers, processors, financial services providers, and transporters