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Food Security

Prosperity Begins With Food Security

Globally more than 1.2 billion people do not get enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. iDE understands that food availability and economic opportunity are intrinsically linked. Without sufficient energy from food, adults struggle to work and children struggle to learn. Poor households experiencing a decline in productivity due to inadequate nutrition or illness find it even harder to achieve the income gains needed to break the cycle of poverty.

Most poor households spend more than half of their income on food. Higher food prices mean more income will be diverted from other household expenses, including education and healthcare, in order to meet nutritional needs.

Population growth and lagging agricultural production pose significant challenges to food security, affecting both food availability and affordability. Climate change threatens to reduce agricultural productivity and food availability and results in the direct loss of employment and/or income. Reduced agricultural production means higher prices.

Agricultural growth can improve global food security and promote prosperity. Most of the world's poor live in rural areas and struggle to survive on subsistence-based agriculture, producing low-value food crops on very small plots of land. Affordable access to water enables these poor farmers to increase agricultural production and invest in higher-value crops. Unleashing the potential of smallholder farmers to produce and sell food not only increases the well-being of the farmers' households but creates a more resilient and abundant global food supply as well. Assured rights of land tenure are necessary if smallholders are going to invest in their farms for the future, as opposed to mining them for short term purposes.

iDE's Approach

iDE promotes food security by stimulating smallholder farmer-centered agricultural growth, which increases incomes and food production, promotes prosperity, and brings down food prices in local markets for the urban poor. Over nearly three decades, iDE has helped more than 19 million of the rural poor move out of subsistence poverty by improving poor rural farmers' access to affordable micro irrigation technologies and market opportunities.

Highlights of iDE's Global Experience

Because of their focus on food production and the creation of income opportunities, iDE's projects are fundamentally about food security, particularly in some of the most vulnerable countries in the world. iDE's largest program is the Rural Prosperity Initiative, which operates in Ethiopia, Zambia, Nepal, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, with planned expansion into Mozambique and Ghana. The Rural Prosperity Initiative, largely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dutch Government, improves income opportunities for thousands of Asian and African rural families living on less than $1 day through the application of small-plot water technologies and complementary value chain interventions. Since program inception in 2006, approximately 41,000 smallholder farmers have more than doubled their annual net income. IDE's household income surveys indicate that farm families typically use more than a third of this additional income to purchase food. After food needs are met, they invest in increased agricultural production, pay for children's education, and purchase basic healthcare services.


In Nepal, iDE, with Winrock and local partners, implemented the USAID-funded Smallholder Irrigation Market Initiative (SIMI). USAID has recognized SIMI for its notable impact under difficult circumstances. By facilitating the adoption of micro irrigation by 51,000 poor households and providing technical assistance through 2,000 farmer groups, SIMI directly increased cumulative sales of high-value crops by $23 million and increased average annual household incomes by $260.


In collaboration with the Bangladesh Department of Agriculture Extension, iDE implemented the Promotion of Affordable Technologies for Food Security project. This project, operating in 21 districts, introduced low-cost micro irrigation technologies for poor farming households to enhance income generation and food production. Also, in Bangladesh, iDE manages the Rural Enterprise Development component of the Market Infrastructure Development Project in Charland Regions (MIDPCR). By project end in 2012, iDE expects to have improved the livelihoods and food security of more than 20,000 households involved in agricultural production and aquaculture.


Under the Emergency Livelihoods Recovery and Nutritional Monitoring project in Zambia, funded by USAID and the US Office of Disaster Assistance, iDE increased food security for 500 vulnerable small farm households affected by malnutrition through the use of treadle pumps, drip irrigation, and extension to mitigate drought effects and to increase food production.


In Ethiopia, iDE, with funding from various bilateral agencies and foundations, works with 37,000 smallholder farmers throughout the country to improve food production, including high value horticulture, bee products, and livestock. Through the European Commission-funded Rural Agricultural Productivity Improvement and Development (RAPID) project, iDE is bringing measureable improvement in food security status to 6,600 poor rural households in six target districts.


Do you want to be at the forefront of the affordable technology revolution? Your contribution to this initiative will help us develop and market the next wave of affordable, low impact, income enhancing technologies, like low pressure crop sprinklers that can work with drip irrigation systems, and a low-cost water storage bag that can hold 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) of monsoon rainwater for use during the dry season.