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Meeting the HIV/AIDS Challenge to Food Security: The role of labour-saving technologies in farm-households




Authors: Jacques du Guerny

A joint publication of UNDP and FAO



The acute labor shortage created by HIV/AIDS and its severe consequences for agriculture production and food security of rural households has been well documented- One of the promising strategies for response from the agriculture sector to the impacts on labor is to identify the roles for labor saving technologies (LSTs) not only in mitigation, but also as part of prevention. Such issues are gaining practical importance because the connection between malnutrition, hunger, famine and HIV/AIDS is now beginning to be made. The drama is emerging at national levels, but is also played out, often invisibly, in a multitude of farm-households in which widows, grand parents and children suddenly take on roles they are unprepared for. Strategies for effective action are urgent
FAO/SDWP commissioned a paper on the issue of LSTs for the meeting "African Asian Agricultures Against AIDS", held in Bangkok from 11 to 13 December 2002, jointly organized by UNDP South East Asia HIV and Development Programme and FAO. The paper was discussed at the meeting and subsequently revised. At the meeting, very concrete examples of LSTs were also presented and will be published in a companion paper. As the meeting confirmed the promising role of LSTs as one of the major responses of the agriculture sector against HIV/AIDS as well as the role South-South cooperation can play in this area, the paper is being brought to the attention of a wider audience working in the fields of agriculture, HIV/AIDS or, more generally, of development.
The paper focuses on the various types and levels of constraints faced by farm-households as a production and reproduction system within a fanning system such as time and energy limitations created by HIV/AIDS provoked shortages. The paper highlights the contributions various LSTs could provide while also stressing the conditions -including gender ones- which have to be met in order to introduce LSTs successfully. LSTs are a partial solution to HIV/AIDS problems, but also represent a challenge to the way agriculture is practiced and to common policies in both agriculture and HIV/AIDS. The focus on LSTs is a fertile field for cooperation between sectors, between public and private institutions, North-South and South-South cooperation.

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December 2002