I thank members for their open engagement and their considered and thoughtful questions.
I will try to respond to a few of them, and then I will hand over to my colleague, Mr. Aijuka, to talk about the Ugandan experience and to Mr. O'Brien to look at trade and other issues around that.
Deputy Penrose asked about what we can do, which is a very important question, and first and foremost the Deputy mentioned resources. One of the commitments made in A Better World was that the Irish Government will meet its commitments to 0.7% around resourcing. A very practical thing this committee can do is reinforce and support that commitment, and monitor it so that we do reach that 0.7% for our overseas development assistance.
Second, many of the recommendations that we have for the committee today are around engaging with the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and its role within this, and the importance of understanding the policy coherence, that these international development issues are not just issues for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or other external-facing Departments, but reach across all of our Government and all our Departments.
Third is the area of climate, which the Deputy mentioned. One of the most pertinent and topical issues is understanding the impact of climate change but also understanding that biodiversity meltdown and soil degradation is happening and that the impact is happening in developing countries and here in Ireland today. One thing that is very current at the moment and which we very much welcome is the recent report from the Joint Committee on Climate Action, as well as the climate action plan that is being discussed and debated by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. Engaging with that plan is a practical thing we could see this committee doing.
Deputy Cahill asked why we still have hunger today. One of the most important points to put home is that there is enough food in the world today to feed the population. It is not a question of scarcity of food. There is enough food in the world today to feed the population of Africa, or even a growing population. The issues around hunger are related to adequacy, accessibility, availability, and sustainability. What that comes down to, essentially, is politics and power. It is not necessarily about the food itself but about who has access to that food, who controls decisions around that food and, critically and more importantly today, sustainability in relation to the impact on climate change, biodiversity, and soil degradation. The issues are far more complex than simply the amount of food, but are to do with who has it and availability around resources.
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy had a question around 77% of farmers actually being women. One issue we have seen over the last decade is the increasing feminisation of agriculture and farmers. Part of that, as the Deputy mentioned, is due to some of these communities coming under immense pressure and a resulting urbanisation trend of people migrating towards cities. Very often it is the men who migrate and the women who are left alone on the farm. Regardless of that, a lot of the burden of work on farms does generally fall to women and has always traditionally fallen to women, who are responsible for farming and feeding families. There are very strong gendered aspects to this, and when we look at vulnerability and the impacts of climate change, it is first and foremost women and children who are feeling this and who we are most concerned about. We have to keep them in the back of our mind constantly in any approaches we have around this.
There were questions on some successes we have had. Increasingly, there is growing evidence around the value of agroecological approaches. Trócaire recently carried out research in Guatemala, for example, where we showed how farmers using agroecological practices realised significantly higher incomes in comparison with their counterparts using semi-conventional systems. We found that the outcome related to a number of factors, including the attainment of comparable yields in crops such as maize, but without a reliance on expensive artificial inputs. I was talking recently to some of my colleagues in Zimbabwe about Cyclone Idai, and one of the things we are starting to see and gathering evidence to show is that communities of farmers using agroecological approaches were more resilient to onset floods, cyclones, and so on. Their crops were stronger, more resilient, and more able to withstand some of these changing weather patterns. Something we ourselves are working hard on is collecting more evidence and research to show this. It is not only us. Other big organisations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, FAO, are far more interested and engaged in this, and indeed my colleague from PELUM can talk a bit more about it.
On the whole question of climate change and its impact, we are seeing this across the board. Trócaire's concern is mainly with small-scale farmers on the front line of this and are experiencing climate biodiversity meltdown and soil degradation. These farmers are on the front lines of experiencing the detrimental effects of climate change while at the same time are least responsible for causing it. It is playing out in many different ways across communities.
Livelihoods are being eroded, economic migration is being forced on communities, food security is at risk, crops are failing, and weather patterns on which people traditionally relied are now entirely unpredictable. I have sat with farmers who have told me that the rains have not come and then, when the rains eventually come, they come so heavily that they cause floods and wipe out entire crops. This leads to families going hungry but also has an impact on families' excess money for healthcare, education for their children, and so on. It not only affects families and individuals, the whole social fabric of communities is being decimated because these people do not have the resilience to withstand the huge stresses being put on them. My colleague, Mr. Aijuka, can speak further on the impact of that. I will hand over to him to address the questions about Uganda, of which there were quite a few. Mr. O'Brien might also have some further comments to add.