Stories tagged: Agriculture and Rural Development Day

Farming First Joins 600 Agricultural Experts at Agriculture and Rural Development Day

Farming First joined a consortium of the world’s leading agricultural organizations today,  to discuss agriculture’s role in building a global green economy in the lead up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) united around 600 agricultural experts in order to ensure that the new vision for sustainable development outlined at Rio+20 recognizes the importance of agriculture and includes key steps necessary for achieving a sustainable food system. Specific examples of these steps being called for today include:

  • Greater integration and broader partnerships amongst sectors – water, energy, crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries
  • A commitment to the generation and dissemination of knowledge to improve food systems
  • A clear process towards a Sustainable Development Goal for food and agriculture

Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of the South Africa-­based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), commented:

Rio+20 negotiators must make explicit the link between food security and sustainable development as well as steps needed to ensure farmers, especially smallholders, have dignified livelihoods, can feed their families and have money in their pockets. For this to happen they require conducive policy environments that enable them access to markets and appropriate technology.

ARDD featured keynote speakers, including the Brazilian Minister for the Environment, Izabella Teixeira. Two high-­level panel discussions also took place, as well as thirteen participatory “learning events” that shared knowledge from various projects on the ground in the developing world that are already offering lasting solutions to poverty and food and nutrition insecurity. Business representatives also participated in the day event, showing support for increased private investment in agriculture, following on from the $3 billion investment pledged by businesses as part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition announced by the G8 last month.

Anne Grethe Dalane, Regional Director of Latin America chaired a Farming First Learning Event, entitled “Achieving and measuring sustainable intensification: the role of technology, best practices and partnerships”. She commented on her sector’s role in agriculture for a green economy:

The private sector is an essential player in delivering the technologies, tools and knowledge needed by farmers. Public-private partnerships can play a key role in driving sustainable growth in agricultural productivity.

Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank & Chair, CGIAR Fund Council, praised the efforts made by the Agriculture and Rural Development Day Consortium. She commented:

Today we are seeing best practices in action. We know that, if scaled up with speed, these approaches could increase food production and improve livelihoods without damaging the environment. We need to create conditions for innovation and then invest so that innovation moves from the lab to the farmer’s fields.

Food security has been highlighted as one of the seven priority areas of the Rio+20 negotiations. Feeding a global population of 9 billion people by 2050 will require at least a 70% increase in global food production and a 50% rise in investments in the agricultural sector.

Growth from agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty than any other sector. Through improved management of crops, livestock, soil, water, forests and other natural habitats, smallholder farmers can achieve the triple win of (1) stronger food security with reduced poverty, (2) greater resilience in the face of environmental threats, and (3) more robust rural livelihoods.

Visit the Farming First Green Economy page for infographics and an animated video about the vital role agriculture plays.

Farming First collaborates on fourth Agriculture and Rural Development Day

Ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), Farming First is co-organising the fourth Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Rio de Janeiro, which takes place on 18th June. The UNSCD (or Rio+20) marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro and will bring together world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection to get to “the future we want.”

Agriculture and Rural Development Day is organised by a consortium of global agricultural organisations, including Farming First, the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to name a few. Policymakers, farmers, scientists and development organisations are all represented within the ARDD consortium, embodying their vision for collaboration as a solution to food security.

In previous years, Agriculture and Rural Development Day has been held annually in conjunction with the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 15, 16 and 17 in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban respectively) and seeks to ensure that sustainable agriculture, which is inextricably linked to both climate change and a green economy, features prominently in discussions as well as the outcome documents of the conference. Following the last Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban, the UNFCCC agreed to consider the adoption of a work plan to support research on climate change mitigation and adaptation science and policy in agriculture, as well as country level readiness and capacity planning. Back in March, Farming First submitted its views to the UNFCCC Secretariat on how these agriculture-related issues might be prioritised, to be discussed by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) at its 36th Session later this month.

The goal for ARDD at Rio+20 is to ensure that the vision for a sustainable green economy includes clear steps for building a sustainable food system, as sustainable intensification of food production as been highlighted as a priority area in the zero draft for the conference.

During the morning session of Agriculture and Rural Development Day, entitled “Lessons in Sustainable Landscapes and Livelihoods”, attendees will see keynote presentations from leaders in sustainable agriculture, as well as a panel discussion on how agriculture will address the Rio+20 challenges. A number of Learning events will also take place in the morning, sharing successful, concrete examples of best agricultural practices from around the world.  These include:

  • Livestock Plus. How can sustainable intensification of livestock production through improved feeding practices help realize livelihood AND environmental benefits?
  • How can developing countries advance towards a more sustainable agriculture? A concrete experience on development of a science-based tropical agriculture in Brazil
  • Achieving and measuring sustainable intensification: the role of technology, best practices and partnerships

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) will host an afternoon programme, entitled “Science of a Food Secure Future”. During the afternoon, groups will hold parallel events on a range of issues such as addressing gender equity in access to natural resources, household nutrition security, sustainable intensification of small scale farming and strategic partnership.

Register for the event here: https://www.agricultureday.org/registration.php

Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag: #rio4ag

How to build the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate

African smallholder farmers are in the eye of the climate change storm. Increased flooding and droughts have seen crop yields diminish as many farmers struggle to support their own livelihoods. With over 70 percent of the continent’s populations dependent on agriculture, this is a problem which cannot be ignored. While Africa contributes less than 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it stands on the frontline of the economic and social consequences of climate change.

At his keynote presentation on Saturday 3rd December at the third Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD), President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze urged that “negotiators must recognize the critical importance of enabling smallholder farmers to become more resilient to climate change and to grow more food in environmentally sustainable, climate-smart ways.”

Later in the day, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda opened up a side event on behalf of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) which focused on how we can build the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate. The event highlighted the work of smallholder farmers in Swaziland and how they are coping with the impacts of climate change.

Back in 2002, Swaziland was hit hard by drought. Many smallholder farmers in the region saw their crops destroyed and their livelihoods threatened due to changing weather conditions. Happy Shongwe, a mother of two from Maphumulo in the Lubombo district of Swaziland, was on-site at the event to discuss her experiences as a smallholder farmer who watched her food reserves run dry due to the drought and was left impoverished. Shongwe and others in her community were helped with food vouchers and knowledge on how they could best respond to the drought.

Shongwe realised that planting maize and raising broiler chickens were not viable ways of coping with a changing climate and instead she began planting legumes which proved to be drought resistant. Starting with just one hectare of land, she quickly increased yields and was able to plant three hectares the following season.

Since then, her fate has changed. Shongwe has since registered Hlelile Investments (Pty) Ltd, a company that produces and markets seeds and is now a certified seed producer through the Seed Quality Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. “I now have my own business and have been able to afford to buy a tractor – I have come along way over the past ten years”, said Shongwe at the event.

Sibanda highlighted the importance of labelling and certification from the government:

For a region to be food secure, it needs to be seed secure. We believe in our own farmers; if given the necessary knowledge, they can grow more food. However, there is still a great need for research, technology and to mobilise funding for smallholder farmers in Swaziland, and other regions across Africa.

Measuring the vulnerability of rural households to external shocks

Today, few tools exist that can effectively measure the impact of shocks and stressess on the lives of the poor. By intermittently measuring the livelihood assets owned by a household over a period of time, researchers can determine household vulnerability and provide evidence to inform investment decisions around the design of policy responses and programme interventions aimed at strengthening household resilience.

Along with World Vision, FANRPAN has developed the Household Vulnerability Index (HVI) to measure the vulnerability of rural households to external shocks such as disease outbreaks, extreme weather and other stresses such as food insecurity. Through this approach, households are categorized into three levels of vulnerability, namely low, moderate and high vulnerability. Based on this more targeted classification system, development response packages are formulated to assist the most vulnerable households at the root causes of their vulnerability.

Following the successful piloting of the HVI tool in three countries in Southern Africa (Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), FANRPAN and World Vision have shared their perspectives on the importance on developing and updating livelihood databases to benchmark livelihoods and provide data for modelling projected changes in livelihoods as a result of climate change.

Speaking at the learning event, Dalton Nxumalo, a Knowledge Management Officer with World Vision Swaziland (who provide funding for the project) noted,

This tool is meant to be a community based tool. The HVI assesses a household’s access to five livelihood assets; natural; physical; financial; human; and social assets and a total of 15 variables are then assessed together and a statistical core is calculated for each household.

Read more about the other learning events at Agriculture and Rural Development Day on its blog.

Outcomes of Agriculture and Rural Development Day at COP17

A group of 19 of the world’s leading organisations (including three United Nations agencies, the World Bank, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), FANRPAN, Farming First, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and the World Farmers’ Organisation) have jointly endorsed a letter calling on COP17 climate negotiators to take concrete action to include agriculture in the text of the climate agreement.

The call to action was announced at this year’s annual Agriculture and Rural Development Day, which took place on Saturday 3rd December in Durban in parallel with the COP17 climate change negotiations. The all-day event brought together more than 500 agricultural experts, including policymakers and negotiators, journalists, farmers and scientists to discuss priorities to boost agricultural production while supporting adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

Dr. Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) said:

It is astonishing that agriculture remains excluded from a global agreement on climate change.  This year’s conference offers a unique opportunity for this omission to be addressed.

Professor Sir John Beddington, Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, outlined a seven-point plan for urgent action for achieving food security in the face of climate change in his keynote presentation. These included integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies, raising the level of investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems over the next decade and sustainably intensifying agricultural production whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A number of key learning events took place during the day, which looked at the successes in agricultural adaptation and mitigation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) led a learning event that looked at the tools and policies required to bring food security, adaptation, and mitigation together and shared best practice. At the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) learning event on building the resilience of African smallholder farmers in a changing climate, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of FANRPAN highlighted the importance of research, technology and mobilisation of funding for smallholder farmers in Swaziland, and other regions across Africa. Many other side events on the day provided agricultural organisations with the opportunity to share knowledge on examples of best practice in early action on agricultural adaptation and mitigation that deliver economic and livelihood benefits  – the triple wins we need for climate smart agriculture.

Other high-level speakers at the event included, Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank and Chair of the CGIAR Fund Council, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Mary Robinson, Chair of the The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ) and Former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner and Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa

In the afternoon, there was a high level panel discussion, facilitated by Laurie Goering, Editor of Reuters Alertnet Climate, and included prominent participants such as Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). As the panel discussed taking agricultural productivity and food security into a new era, Spelman put forward the UK’s position on climate-smart agriculture saying:

Coping with climate change is a matter of extreme urgency. There are no simple, one-size-fits-all solutions but rather a rich diversity of approaches used around the world. Climate-smart solutions require smart finance.

Agriculture possesses huge uptapped potential to reduce poverty, bolster food security, adapt to climate change, reduce pressure on natural resources, and in many places lower greenhouse gas emissions. To realise this potential, farmers, fishers, and pastoralists must urgently become “climate-smart”, especially in the developed world, which is being hit hardest by climate change impacts. As the open letter endorsed by the 19 agricultural organisations reads:

Whilst agriculture is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it has significant potential to be part of the solution to climate change. Preserving and enhancing food security requires increasing agricultural productivity whilst at the time adapting to and mitigating climate change. It also requires a shift towards building farmers’ and vulnerable communities’ resilience to climate shocks, and related food price volatility.

You can read more about the open letter in our previous blog: “Agriculture: A call to action for COP17 climate negotiators”.

Agriculture & Rural Development Day: Meeting Food Security and Climate Change Challenges

Screen shot 2010-11-17 at 17.48.49The role of agriculture in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies will be the central focus at Agriculture and Rural Development Day, running parallel to COP16 in Cancun, Mexico.

On 4 December, five hundred delegates from across the world, including policy makers, farmers, scientists and representatives from the private sector and civil society, will meet to discuss sustainable agriculture solutions to meet food security and climate change challenges.

Following on from the successes of last year, where there was an increased recognition of the link between agriculture, food security and climate change, this year’s event will build on that progress and help to push for the adoption of solid climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The main discussion will look at identifying policies and practical solutions to reduce agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, and will hear regional perspectives on risks and opportunities for agriculture in a changing climate.

Five roundtable discussions will follow, sharing knowledge on agricultural intensification, agricultural mitigation and carbon sequestration, pro-poor rural adaptation, capturing carbon finance and science and technological aspects.

Speakers at Agriculture and Rural Development Day include:

  • Inger Andersen, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank
  • Prof Xu Yinlong, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science
  • Senator Alberto Cárdenas Jiménez, Mexico
  • Ing. M.C. Ignacio Rivera Rodriguez, Vice-Minister for Agricultural Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), Mexico

In the run up to the event, the Agriculture Day website is running a blog where the international community is sharing ideas and stories. Read the Farming First post here.

Online registration for participants has been closed due to overwhelming demand. People wanting to attend are however encouraged to apply. The event committee still reviews applications on a case-by-case basis.