20 Apr 2015


For World Earth Day and in view of Milan Expo 2015, the Barilla Foundation (BCFN) presents solid proposals for sustainable agriculture.

If women had access to the same productive resources as men in developing countries, yields could increase by 20-30%. In observance of Earth Day, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation calls attention to an important phenomenon that could be key to sustainable agricultural development, and sets out substantial commitments through the Milan Protocol, one of the landmark documents for the preparation of the Milan Charter, commissioned by the Italian government.

Women play a fundamental role in agriculture and in rural economies, but are often forced to deal with limitations that reduce productivity. In South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively, nearly 70% and 60% of the female workforce is employed in agriculture, but less than 20% of agricultural landowners are women.
“One of the reasons for this situation is the flood of financial speculation on food products and agricultural lands, like, for example, land grabbing, one of the global problems for which we most urgently need to find a solution,” says Danielle Nierenberg, co-Founder of Food Tank and member of the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation Advisory Board. “One of the most serious consequences of this phenomenon is the exclusion of local communities from managing the land and from agricultural development projects, if not actually the violation of human rights. And this affects women in particular, who represent 43% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries: they are therefore a fundamental resource for the sector, in all respects. It has actually been calculated,” continues Nierenberg, “that in those areas where women had the same access to productive resources as men, yields could increase from 20% to 30%, increasing the total agricultural production of developing countries by up to 4%, therefore helping reduce the number of people suffering from hunger in the world by 12% to 17%.”

The BCFN Foundation proposes to institutions and organizations that support the Milan Protocol some substantial commitments for sustainable agriculture: laws regulating international financial speculation on raw materials and land, protecting communities from land grabbing, limiting the use of land for the production of biofuels, bioplastics, and animal feed, and limiting the use of biofuels to 5% under the national objectives for renewable energy.

BCFN’s sensitization campaign is not only for institutions. Every citizen can do their part, every day, with small gestures and acts of attention, for example, buying products that come from a good and sustainable supply chain, diversifying the diet with various products, especially fruits and vegetables, and being a spokesperson for initiatives against food waste and supporting a balanced diet.

Since 2009, the subject of sustainable agriculture has been one of the pillars of BCFN’s work. The Milan Protocol, which had the participation of more than 100 institutions and public and private organizations, and thousands of private citizens throughout the world, is one of the landmark documents for the preparation of the Milan Charter, commissioned by the Italian government, whose final version will be delivered on October 16 to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.