Global Innovation Challenge 2018: Help Cultivate Food Equity in the Global South

Photo of participants.

On May 21-25, 2018, students from across UB will develop strategies for stronger, more equitable food systems in the Global South in a workshop sponsored by UB's Community for Global Health Equity.

Smallholder farms provide at least 50% of the agricultural output for domestic consumption in most low- and middle-income countries. Smaller than two acres in size, smallholder farms account for about 70 percent of all farms. Yet, the 500+ million households that run these farms withstand the worst food insecurity, especially in the Global South. Limited access to capital, markets, land, technology, and training, as well as political stressors, gender inequities, and, more recently, climate change, amplify the vulnerability of smallholder farm families.

Historically, top-down policy efforts have been the primary strategy for addressing the challenges smallholder farmers experience. This approach neglects the complexity and localized nature of urban and regional food systems. For example, agriculture is not only found in rural areas; globally about 68,000,000 hectares, or 15.7%, of all irrigated and rain-fed cropland is in urban and peri-urban areas. Producers who farm in different contexts face different challenges.

An alternative approach is farmer-centered: learning from and building capacity among farmers in order to achieve practical and sustainable solutions to meet the consumption demands of the world’s population and the farmers themselves. Nevertheless, with an increasing policy emphasis on large-scale agricultural production, innovative strategies are needed to support and empower smallholder farmers.

This one-week workshop is open to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students from all majors: anthropology to architecture, English to engineering, media to management, political science to public health, sociology to social work. Participants will engage in team-building activities, and work with expert international stakeholders and UB faculty to develop social, technological, business, educational, and policy innovations to address significant and persistent global health challenges.

The Challenge

Develop innovative strategies to cultivate food equity in the Global South – improving the health, livelihoods, and environments of smallholder farmers.