What You Never Realized About Rural Poverty And Your Food >

Julie Peachey
• Posted in agriculture

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

Thomas Jefferson once said: "Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands."

Today, of the 7 billion people on earth, 1.3 billion people farm the food and raw materials we consume. Despite being our "most valuable citizens," a disproportionate number of these people suffer from the consequences of poverty. The World Bank estimates that 75 percent of the world's poor, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day, live in rural areas, and most of these people depend on agricultural work.

As an international nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing global poverty, we at Grameen Foundation are committed to making agricultural livelihoods more reliable and lucrative. As we try to design solutions for the rural poor, three questions emerge:

  • Which crops are best suited for the poorest farmers?
  • Which factors, such as land size, crop yield, or market prices, have the greatest impact on a farmer's financial health?
  • What specialized products and services do poor farmers need to become more financially healthy?

In pursuit of answers to these questions and more, we have worked closely with a network of agricultural entities around the world. For example, we helped an organic farming cooperative in the Philippines to measure the rate of poverty among their farmers using the Progress out of Poverty Index® (PPI®). By simply measuring poverty among their farmers, the cooperative discovered that its poorest members were more likely to drop out of the organic rice program because organic rice farming practices are just too expensive. Now, the cooperative is exploring bamboo production -- a sustainable crop that is less expensive and therefore may be more suitable for very poor farmers.

Read the rest of the article on the Huffington Post.