Launch of the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA 2015)

  • 13th October 2015
  • by admin
State of Food and Agriculture
© FAO, October 2015
151 pages
Social protection encompasses initiatives that provide cash or in-kind transfers to the poor, protect the vulnerable against risks and enhance the social status and rights of the marginalized – all with the overall goal of reducing poverty and economic and social vulnerability. Social protection includes three broad components: social assistance, social insurance and labour market protection.

  1. Social assistance programmes are publicly provided conditional or unconditional cash or in-kind transfers or public works programmes.
  2. Social insurance programmes are contributory programmes that provide cover for designated contingencies affecting household welfare or income.
  3. Labour market programmes provide unemployment benefits, build skills and enhance workers’ productivity and employability.

Agriculture and social protection are fundamentally linked in the context of rural livelihoods. Poor and food-insecure families depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihoods, and make up a large proportion of the beneficiaries of social protection programmes. Stronger coherence between agriculture and social protection interventions can help protect the welfare of poor, small-scale agriculturalists, helping them manage risks more effectively and improve agricultural productivity, leading to more sustainable livelihoods and progress out of poverty and hunger. (page 17)

The State of Food and Agriculture 2015 focuses on the role of social protection in fighting poverty and hunger through promoting agricultural and rural development. The report is presented by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Director-General, Coordinator for Economic and Social Development.

  • Social protection programmes have expanded rapidly over the past two decades. Throughout the developing world, about 2.1 billion people, or one-third of the population, receive some form of social protection. There is wide variation among regions, with coverage lowest in the regions where poverty incidence is highest. This report focuses on social assistance, by far the most common form of social protection in the developing world.
  • Many countries in the developing world increasingly recognize that social protection measures are needed to reduce and/or prevent poverty and hunger immediately. As a result, social protection programmes have expanded rapidly in recent years, although there is great diversity in the nature of programmes, even within the same country.
  • When well implemented, and transfers are regular and predictable, social protection also facilitates increased investment in onfarm production activities, including inputs, tools and livestock, as well as in non-farm enterprises. Even relatively small transfers help the poor overcome liquidity and credit constraints, and provide insurance against some risks that deter them from pursuing higher-return activities.

Benjamin Davis, FAO’s Deputy-Director Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA), talks about the focus of SOFA report 2015 – social protection and agriculture – underlining the importance of combining interventions in both fields in order to overcome poverty and eradicate hunger. He also explains why these programmes often target women and illustrates the impact in the economy of the communities in which beneficiaries live.

This video highlights the key impacts of social cash transfers on households, children and local economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Evidence from across the region shows that social protection has helped reduce poverty, boosted local economies, increased family income, production and food security. Social protection, through cash transfers, can and does work in Africa.

The video shows the results and impacts the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme is having in Ghana. LEAP is a cash transfer programme for the poorest families in Ghana to reduce poverty and enhance long term human development. LEAP is managed by Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. The University of North Carolina and the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research at the University of Ghana carried out the impact evaluation, in conjunction with UNICEF and FAO’s PtoP team.

Insights from three different Ministries (Social Welfare, Finance and Agriculture) on why coherence between agriculture and social protection is important for reducing poverty and malnutrition in Malawi.

This video shows the impacts of the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Programme in Zambia. The main objective of the SCT is to reduce extreme poverty and to prevent its transmission across generations. Results from the impact evaluation carried out by FAO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and American Institutes for Research show that the programme is having positive impacts such as increased food security, improved child wellbeing, improved living conditions and increased productivity and ownership of productive assets. Zambia’s Social Cash Transfer (SCT) Programme is implemented by the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health and has been operating in Zambia since 2003. As of December 2014, the programme reached 150,000 households across 50 districts and there are concrete plans to scale it up nation-wide in the near future.

Related: Announcement:


On the occasion of World Food Day and the 70th anniversary of FAO, the conference will present the 2015 edition of the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA). This year’s edition of FAO’s flagship publication looks into how Social protection and Agricultural development, working together, can contribute to breaking the cycle of rural poverty and food insecurity.

  • Introduction: Mr. Bernard Rey, Deputy Head of Unit DEVCO C1, Rural Development, Food Security, Nutrition
  • Presentation: Marco Knowles, Economist, policies and institutions, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, Italy