Healthy Farmers = Food Security
The case for why agriculture and healthcare must work together
In silos, we have 'thrived': I grew up in a smallholder community and have also spent most of the last 10 years working with smallholder farmers or devising smallholder strategies and implementation models in Africa. A key observation I have made over the years is that private companies, government ministries, many NGOs and implementation partners often focus so much on their core areas that they end up missing out on opportunities to come together to effectively deliver the results they want! In most last-mile models, agricultural companies will focus on their technologies while healthcare companies will focus on providing last-mile health whether it be vaccination, free health checks or NCD diagnosis. Sometimes, the silos are even within related departments such as a soil lab set up by the Horticulture Department sitting 50m from one established by the Agriculture Department years ago - with neither having run any productive tests to date! In most rural communities, the farmer is often the patient and vice versa so why not work together, leverage each other's resources and human capacity, and then drive collective programs for greater and broader success... after all, no ailing farmer can provide food security for the greater population! Easier said than done! In a world of limited resources and razor-sharp focus, parties are often confined to narrow targets and immediate deliverables, therefore, making it difficult to go beyond the box and think holistically. When discussing ag and healthcare working in tandem, people often refer to anti-malaria nets being given out to farmers. It is a good example, indeed, however I believe much more could be done.