Julia Jung and Lukas Hanke, The Green Innovation Centre India Continue reading
5th – 8th September 2018
Africa has great aspirations for the future. These are possible, but will require Africa’s agricultural sector and food systems to more rapidly and sustainably deliver incomes, food security, nutrition, and wider economic opportunities.The 2018 AGRF will take stock, evaluate actions, and learn from compelling evidence across the continent, presented by many of the most inspiring leaders turning agriculture into thriving enterprises. These leadership will include farmers, public sector thought leaders, private sector champions, agripreneurs, and many others.
Farming First, alongside leading agriculture bodies including the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN World Food Programme, the World Bank and the World Farmer’s Organisation, has endorsed the following open letter as a call to action to COP17 negotiators in Durban.
Our world faces formidable challenges. The global population has now crossed the seven billion mark and is projected to reach nine billion by mid-century, requiring at least a 70 percent increase in agricultural production to meet increased demand.
The world’s resources are under more strain than ever before as global demand for water, energy and food is on the rise. At the same time, climate change threatens farmers’ ability to produce enough to meet growing demand, and poor communities’ ability to access nutritious food.
More frequent and extreme weather events are affecting our food supply, our infrastructure and our livelihoods. Last year, Russia suffered its worst drought in more than 100 years, triggering forest fires and destroying millions of hectares of crops. This year we have seen the Horn of Africa face its worst drought in 60 years as more than 13 million people requiring emergency food aid and pastoralists losing a third of their livestock. Recent flooding in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Cambodia has also impacted livelihoods and worsened food insecurity.
The most vulnerable regions of the world – developing countries – are disproportionately affected by climate change, despite contributing little to carbon emissions. People in developing countries depend heavily on agriculture for their livelihoods, yet are increasingly challenged in their ability to produce sufficient food for their families and for markets.
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.
More productive, sustainable and resilient agriculture requires transformations in how rural people manage natural resources and how efficiently they use these resources as inputs for crop production. For these transformations to occur, it is essential that the world’s farmers, scientists, researchers, the private sector, development practitioners and food consumers come together to achieve climate-smart agriculture.
Yet the agricultural sector remains astonishingly underfunded. As a percentage of total investment, agriculture has dropped from 22 percent in 1980 to approximately 6 percent today. In absolute terms, this constitutes a drop to roughly half of the funding allocated thirty years ago.
At the upcoming climate change negotiations in Durban, we call on negotiators to recognise the important role of agriculture in addressing climate change so that a new era of agricultural innovation and knowledge sharing can be achieved. Specifically, we ask that they approve a Work Programme for agriculture under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) so that the sector can take early action to determine the long-term investments needed to transform agriculture to meet future challenges.
You can see the full list of signatories on the Agriculture and Rural Development Day website.
A recent paper “Considering the Energy, Water, and Food Nexus: Towards an Integrated Modelling Approach” has just been published by Morgan Bazilian, Holger Rogner et al.
In the paper, the authors argue that the areas of energy, water and food policy are interlinked, and have shared concerns ranging from environmental impacts to price volatility.
The Water-Food-Energy nexus, a term developed by the World Economic Forum in its Global Risks 2011 series, refers to the risks of water security, food security and energy security. Population growth and rising economic prosperity are expected to increase demand for energy, food and water, which in turn puts pressure on natural resources. This, combined with global governance failures, economic disparity and geopolitical conflict, could result in food shortages, struggles over water and hamper economic development. The three issues are deeply linked – food production requires water, water extraction and distribution require energy, which in turn requires water, and food prices depend on energy inputs. Climate change and growing populations also exacerbate this nexus.
The authors claim that identifying the interrelationships between these three areas is of great importance to help avoid potential tensions, and that ‘systems thinking’ – the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole – is required to address such a wide range of possible topics.
The paper states that while environmental issues are the core link between all three areas, other factors suggest that economic and security-related issues may be stronger motivators of change. The authors conclude that understanding of the complex interactions between the areas of energy, water and food will require new institutional capacity both in industrialised and developing countries.
The Farming First coalition advocates a six-point action plan for enhancing sustainable development through agriculture. In line with these six principles, Farming First encourages stakeholders to pursue policies that achieve long-term global sustainability goals through proven techniques, including specific actions in the area of water use and management, and around food security.
These principles are:
1. Safeguard natural resources
2. Share knowledge
3. Build local access and capacity
4. Protect harvests
5. Enable access to markets
6. Prioritise research imperatives
The basic source of fuel in Uganda is wood in the form of charcoal or firewood, which over 90% of the population relies on for heating and cooking. This dependence on traditional charcoal and firewood is responsible for the prevailing deforestation and soil degradation, the effects of which have manifested in irregular rainfall, floods and violent storms.
The major cause of this is a lack of affordable and reliable alternative sources of energy, and where alternatives do exist, such as kerosene and gas, the majority of people are too poor to afford them.
A new project, ‘Energy Alternative Sources’, to save the forest has been set up by the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE) that involves recycling agricultural waste to manufacture charcoal briquettes which are an affordable alternative to charcoal and firewood.
Through binding together agricultural waste in a kiln, a charcoal briquette is created that has a wide range of biomass, and provides an alternative to further deterioration of the forest. The charcoal briquettes have encouraged farmers to practice good environmental management, as well as getting women involved in the manufacturing process. The briquettes are cheap, readily accessible and offer a long-term sustainable solution to conservation agricultural practices, turning waste into energy.
A new report issued by the UK’s Department for Enviroment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) outlines how the UK government intends to address future food security. According to the Guardian, the ‘Food 2030’ report takes the most comprehensive approach to agriculture policy since the Second World War.
The UK food industry is worth £80 billion and employs 3.6 million people. Driven by the triple threat of a growing population, the threat of climate change and a vulnerable supply of natural resources, the new policy by Defra outlines what the UK government perceives to be priority actions for the future, including:
- increasing the amount of food grown in Britain
- reducing the impact of agriculture upon the environment
- reducing agricultural emissions by the equivalent of 3 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020
- reviewing the impacts of UK consumption on agricultural economies in the rest of the world
- addressing the issue of waste through reuse, recycling or energy generation
- informing consumers about healthy, sustainable food choices.
The policy also spells out plans to double its investment in agricultural research to £80 million by 2013, with a focus on helping farmers in developing nations. Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State of Defra, said:
By turning research into practical ideas, and by learning from what the best are doing, we can achieve a lot more. Science will also tell us when nature is under strain.
‘Food 2030’ seeks to improve the UK food industry from production to distribution, providing better resources to farmers, whilst using natural resources sustainably to help the global food industry. Benn said:
We need to increase food production to feed a growing world population – there’ll be another 2-3 billion people in 40 years.
The Financial Times reports that plans detailing how these changes will be effectuated, including any necessary new legislation, will be released in the coming months.