Agricultural improvements have yielded tremendous results, decreasing the number of undernourished people by 167 million in the last ten years alone. However, these improvements have often been made by increasing the amount of land under cultivation – a practice that cannot continue indefinitely. Agricultural expansion has also come at a price: soil erosion, deforestation and water pollution – compounded by higher and more volatile global temperatures – have already begun to reduce agricultural productivity. For this reason, Mercy Corps works to ensure agro-systems around the world are economically productive, nutritionally diverse and efficient – both today and in the future.
We help smallholder farmers – farmers with less than 1 hectare of land – and pastoralists develop their production capacity so they can increase productivity and weather environmental shocks and stresses. We also focus on improving agriculture-related products and services by working with traders, input suppliers, processors and government bodies. And our holistic approach extends further – to improving the nutrition of people who consume agricultural products. This might mean increasing a crop's nutritional value by improving how crops are harvested, stored and transported. We also work with families to help them diversify the crops they grow and educating communities about the benefits and conditions of good nutrition.
Nepal: Protecting natural resources
Villagers in southwestern Nepal gather to tell Mercy Corps staff about their needs and how they make use of their surrounding environment — land, plants, water. The work is part of an assessment to figure out how to reduce natural resource-based conflict in the area.
Guatemala: Women stake their claim in the land of machismo
Their roots of land conflict may date to the Spanish conquistadors, but today we’re giving women the tools to resolve them without resorting to lawyers or guns.
Niger: Schools empty as food shortage worsens
Twelve-year-old Lauretta was forced to drop out of school to help keep house and watch her younger brother while her mother forages for food to feed the family.
Yemen: Humanitarian needs demand urgent attention
Tajikistan: Food supplies dwindle as extreme winter drags on
In the high villages of Askalon Jamoat, there is no food left in the shops, and households are completely reliant on their own dwindling supplies as access is completely cut off.
Niger: Update from the field: Food crisis is just beginning
Guatemala: Land ownership yields stronger, healthier communities
Families in the rural highlands are dependent on the land, but years of civil war have diminished resources. Find out how they are rebuilding from the ground up.
Niger: "There is nothing to eat"
During the two weeks I recently spent with in Niger with our emergency response teams, I kept hearing the same thing over and over: There is nothing to eat.
Niger: Families seek food assistance
Due to worsening food shortages, the nutritional screening centers that Mercy Corps established several years ago have experienced a massive increase in patients.
Niger: Mother and child in Niger
One of many mothers worried about the lack of food for their children after severe drought and a meager 2011 harvest have brought the lean season to Filingue and the rest of Niger months early.