Howard Buffett said among the bigger challenges are getting the knowledge, farming tools, seeds and techniques appropriate for each country into the hands of farmers and encouraging governments to let farmers make decisions that are best for their own land.
“We have to empower farmers to make good decisions, and to make good decisions they can afford comes down to government policy in the end,” he said.
Blair said the World Food Prize Foundation’s focus on developing agriculture is essential for developing countries that need to feed growing populations. He said industrialized nations offering help also need to be far less bureaucratic and more creative about solutions they offer.
Sharma said poverty is rooted in peoples’ lack of power to change their environment or circumstances.
“You have to address the relative powerlessness of those you’re trying to help, and woman are the least powerful among them,” she said.
She said she has witnessed men take away productive land after local women aided by organizations were successful in growing crops.
“I see that time and time again. You have to look at what is underlying that poverty. What are the power structures, what are the barriers that any farmer, male or female, is facing and address that at the same time,” said.
Making an impact in some cases requires talking with elders to change attitudes or drafting new national laws to permit women to own land.
Blair agreed that successful countries have to overcome attitudes that limit women from seeking education and property ownership.