01 Apr 2009

Small-scale farmers from developing nations are helping Britain’s new breed of gardeners and allotment holders to take the first steps to producing their own fruit and vegetables. Their knowledge and tips have been collected by international development agency Progressio as part of a drive to highlight the crucial role played by small-scale farmers across the globe.

In the light of rising food prices and economic crises, more than 100,000 British residents are queuing up for allotments in community gardens, while others are deciding to convert part of their yards into vegetable plots and sales of fruit and vegetables seeds have jumped by 28 percent.

Coming from numerous countries around the world, these farmers rely on their land to keep their families and communities fed using organic production methods that have been finely tuned over the centuries. The tips, which have been given the thumbs up by the Royal Horticultural Society, include advice on ways to tackle pests and control weeds, and to maximize crop yeilds.

‘These farmers are real professionals,’ says Petra Kjell, Progressio’s Environmental Policy Officer. ‘They have to be – their lives depend on it. And given half a chance they could play a key role in solving the global food crisis.’

‘Not only do they produce food to feed 2 billion people – a third of humanity – many do so in a sustainable way, managing a large proportion of the world’s water supply and preserving the soil’s fertility,’ says Kjell.

However, Progressio is warning that many small-scale farmers are now under threat, particularly in low-income nations. Not only have vast swathes of land been given over to large-scale commercial agriculture, but backing for small-scale producers has dwindled in national and aid budgets.


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