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Over six million small farms and communities in sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries will receive extra support to build their resilience to extreme weather and pull themselves out of poverty, according to the UK's Department for International Development.
As announced at the Rio+20 Conference by UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the aid programme will support such measures as:
Working with the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the programme will provide grants to benefit smallholder communities. By contributing to the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), managed by IFAD, the UK government will endeavour to improve the lives of smallholder farms and at least half of those benefitting will be women.
Speaking at the Rio+20 high level event "Food for life & the life of food", UK's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: "One billion people go to bed hungry every night, yet the world will need to feed an extra billion mouths by 2025. This cannot continue – more food must be grown and it must be at lower cost to the environment. If action isn't taken, the impact of climate change on agriculture could lead to another 25 million malnourished children by 2050... Farmers need to be able to act now to adapt to climate change, to protect their own livelihoods and the health of their communities."
About 500 m smallholder farms in the developing world produce up to 80% of the food supply in those countries. Often the most vulnerable and marginalized people in rural societies, smallholder farmers are already at risk from extreme weather conditions, such as floods and drought. Climate change exacerbates these problems, threatening to erode the gains made in other development areas, such as health and education.
According to the Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell, the programme "recognises some of the world's poorest farmers as entrepreneurs, helping them to maintain or improve production in the face of increasing droughts, floods, rises in sea levels or mounting temperatures. It underlines that aid is a means to an end not an end in itself".