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Has the thought about what it is like not to have food crossed our minds?  I am sure most of us do not have to worry about going to bed hungry every day, but there are people who do. It hurts to think about all of those people that do not make it through the night because of not having any food.  According to the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary hunger is “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite. Also the exhausted condition caused by the want of food”.

Hunger is both a cause and symptom of poverty. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reports that the global food security of poorer rural people deteriorated is due to higher food prices and a lack of support by certain developing countries to their agricultural sector. The emphasis today in countries such as South Africa is to provide ‘food security’ and develop rural areas to provide sustainable development. Food security means access to both balanced diet and safe drinking water by all people at all times. Impoverished rural areas of South Africa are a major problem area in terms of providing food security. In order to contribute to this, Heifer South Africa, are upgrading skills and knowledge in rural areas as well as focusing on upgrading of agriculture and small scale food production.  Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth.  For nearly 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer International works in most of South Africa’s impoverished rural villages to help families and communities become more self-reliant.

Heifer has introduced agriculture based on family farming as a solution to address hunger, environmental and economic challenges faced by people that are impoverished. Family farms are increasingly being recognized as part of the future and a key player towards sustainable development. Family farming is central to eradicating hunger.  Family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in developing countries. The hungry live in rural areas and depend on farming for their subsistence and income. Heifer helps improve their livelihoods through sustainable agriculture, in combination with concrete support in terms of capacity development, tools, technology, infrastructure and access to basic services with priority given in efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Targeting family farmers will make a difference in the hunger equation.

The core of family farming is the preservation of natural resources and diversity of agricultural activities. The projects carried out by Heifer works with communities to strengthen local economies. The value based, holistic and community development approach focuses on giving small scale farmers hope in an increase in income and assets, food security and nutrition and caring for the environment which addresses the systematic causes of poverty and hunger. Projects involve enhancing the capacity of small scale farmers, especially women, to secure their livelihoods - Multiplied by strong social capital and women’s empowerment, Heifer’s work results in a sustainable solution to world hunger and poverty.

Fortunately, boosting agricultural activity has proven to be one of the best ways to reducing global poverty. In communities in which Heifer works, they aim for ZERO: zero hunger, zero poverty and zero environmental damage. The power to food security amongst the poor lies in the hands of small scale farmers.