Stories tagged: green economy

African Green Revolution Forum 2012 Round-Up

The second African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF 2012) took place last week in Arusha, Tanzania, focussing on the theme “Scaling Investment and Innovation for Sustainable Agricultural Growth and Food Security”. The first AGRF was held in Accra Ghana in 2011.

With an aim to urge prompt action to improve four areas, namely, public-private partnerships, agricultural finance, making markets work and building foundations for rapid growth in agricultural production, the 2012 conference brought together over 1,000 participants from African governments, private sector representatives, farmers, civil society organizations and relevant stakeholders to share experiences and knowledge over a three-day forum.

The forum ran plenary and breakout sessions and side events, and showcased the agricultural success stories and challenges that the continent faces. Opening remarks were heard from Kofi Annan, President Of The United Republic of Tanzania, Melinda Gates, President of AGRA Jane Karuku and IFAD President Nwanze.

The speaker’s remarks were connected by an overwhelming call for investment in African agriculture in order to comprehensively boost agricultural production and attain more robust and secure economic growth and food security both in Africa and globally. They strongly emphasized that investing in smallholder farmers, particularly women, and the need to recognise them as the driving force behind productivity is key to unlocking the continent’s agricultural potential.

As he declared the forum open, President Kikwete of Tanzania also called for stronger partnerships among governments, donor agencies and the private sector in order to stimulate growth and productivity in agriculture. He stressed that the conference should center on ways of attracting private sector investment in order to help bolster the African agricultural sector, as it would have a positive ripple effect on the overall economic climate on the continent, thereby improving livelihoods.

In her opening remark, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda said:

In the end, it boils down to what ought to be done to eradicate poverty…In order to achieve our objective, we needed to invest not only in health but also in global development generally, of which agriculture is a powerful example…

Ultimately, the forum produced an action plan to transform Africa’s agricultural sector. It was agreed that structures to link smallholder farmers with key players in the financial system should be developed. Forum participants also called for regional commodity trade regimes to be harmonised and barriers lifted across Africa as well as encouraging plans to address issues that disrupt the flow of regional markets such as infrastructure, corruption and transport.

At the end of the meeting, Ms Jane Karuku, president of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said:

The international community is beginning to realise that smallholder farmers are entrepreneurs and farming is a business…The forum inspired tremendous discussions and developed actionable plans to bring us closer to achieve food security. It is critical that we move forward with these real, practical and pragmatic actions.

And Yara International president and chief executive officer and co-chair at the forum, Mr Jorgen ole Haslestad, added:

By gathering public-private sector leaders to collaborate across borders and industries, we are optimistic that the result will be a more food secure future.

For a round up of opening remarks and media articles covering AGRF 20102, click here.


Increasing productivity and a more sustainable food system are key to global food security

Earlier this month saw the launch of the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2021 report, which provides market projections for different agricultural sectors – including biofuels, cereals, oilseeds, sugar, meats, dairy products, fish and seafood.

The Outlook report highlights how, over the next 40 years, agricultural production must increase by 60 per cent in order to meet the rising global demand for food – equating to one billion additional tones of cereals and 200 million extra tones of meat per year by 2050 compared with 2005/07 levels.

Price volatility still remains a concern, with weather-related yield variability being the main threat as long as food stocks remain low. Food commodity prices are expected to remain on a higher plateau over the next decade, underpinned by firm demand but a slowing growth in global production, and will feature prominently in policymakers’ agendas.

Population growth, higher per capita incomes, urban migration, changing diets in developing countries and rising requirements for biofuels are all contributing to increased demand for food. Meanwhile, more frequent and extreme weather events are affecting our food supply, our infrastructure and our livelihoods. Globally, the scope for area expansions is limited and by 2050, total arable land is projected to increase by only about 5 per cent (69 million hectares). Increasing productivity will be central in containing food prices and will be a key factor in reducing global food insecurity.

Agricultural growth is predicted to slow to an average of 1.7 percent annually over the next 10 years, which is down from a trend rate of over 2 percent per year in recent decades.

The Outlook report expects developing countries to be the main drivers of growth in global agricultural production through to 2021, as they have the greatest potential to increase land devoted to agriculture and to improve productivity. They will also account for the majority of exports of rice, oilseeds, vegetable and palm oil, protein meals, sugar, beef, poultry meat, fish and fish products by 2021.

Encouraging better agronomic practices, creating the right commercial, technical and regulatory environment, and strengthening agricultural innovation systems (e.g research, education, extension, infrastructure), including measures addressing the specific needs of smallholders are all highlighted in the Outlook report as essential policy challenges. Measures to reduce food loss and waste are also key to meeting rising demand and improving productivity in the supply chain.

During a press briefing at the launch of the Outlook report, Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General said:

Increased productivity, green-growth and more open markets will be essential if the food and nutrition requirements of future generations are to be met.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva went on to say:

 For consumers, especially for the millions of people living in extreme poverty, high food prices have caused considerable hardship. We need to redouble our efforts to bring down the number of hungry people. We must focus on increasing sustainable productivity growth, especially in developing countries, and especially for small producers.

Angel Gurría outlined five steps to achieving sustainable agricultural productivity growth:

  1. Encourage better agronomic practices and promote the green growth potential of agriculture.
  2. Ensure increased efficiency on a global scale.
  3. Encourage agricultural innovation.
  4. Tackle wastage.
  5. Increase investment in infrastructure and close the gender gap in the developing world.

Read the full report.

Read more about agriculture and a green economy.

Farming First reaches 10,000 Twitter Followers

Today we are celebrating Farming First reaching 10,000 followers on Twitter! As a thank you to all our dedicated and valued followers, we wanted to share with you our top ten tweet moments. In the first blog, we share with you the first five.

1.    Our first Tweet

Our first ever tweet was on 27th April 2009 when Farming First’s Twitter account was first launched.  It announced Farming First’s campaign video:


Needless to say, Farming First has come a long way since then, with many more videos, infographics, guides and policy papers to help further sustainable agricultural development worldwide.


 2.    Launch of “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy” Infographic

Back in May 2011, we launched a six-part interactive infographic called “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy” which uses data from leading research organisations to tell the story of agriculture’s potential to help build a green economy. It consists of 17 individually designed graphics, each of which can be tweeted and/or embedded into websites.

The green economy is a focus area for Farming First in the build up to Rio+20 in June this year. Farming First has created a new page on its website to host this infographic, alongside other information related to agriculture and the green economy.

The reaction to the infographic online and over Twitter was fantastic, with many agricultural organisations, media and members of the public tweeting about it and embedding it on their websites. Farming First has since received awards for the infographic from The Gates Foundation and the Digital Communications Awards.

View the full infographic here.

#greeneconomy #RioPlus20

3. International Conference on Asian Food Security

Back in August 2011, Farming First attended the International Conference on Asian Food Security (IACSFS) where leading policymakers and influencers from around Asia met to discuss the region’s food security imperatives for the future. As part of this conference, these leaders met at a Farming First sponsored dinner to discuss the six principles of the Farming First action plan and how these should be put into action in Asia.


The three day conference was opened by Shenggen Fan of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), addressed the four basic dimensions of food security: availability, physical access, economic access and utilisation.

Farming First live tweeted from the conference to help share the key learnings from each session, including quotes from speakers such as Shenggen Fan, Dr Mohamed Maliki bin Osman and Dr. Franz Fischler. Topics discussed during sessions included sustainable growth in agricultural production, resilient food supply chains, the impacts of trade policies, and humanitarian food aid strategies.

Read our previous blog post about the conference here.

#Asia #foodsecurity

4. Annual UN Climate Talks

Since Farming First’s Twitter account first launched, we have been bringing our followers up-to-date news from the annual UN climate change negotiations. The first was at COP15 in Copenhagen, the second at COP16 in Cancun and the most recent was COP17 in Durban. COP17 saw the most significant steps made yet for agriculture, as for the first time the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to consider adopting a framework for sectoral approaches, which includes agriculture. The UNFCCC also requested the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to consider issues related to agriculture at its 36th session in May 2012.

For the past three years, Farming First has attended Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) during COP – a major one day event which brings together hundreds of policy makers, farmers, scientists and development experts to discuss the urgent need for rural people in developing countries to play a greater role and receive stronger support in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

At COP17, Farming First endorsed an open letter alongside the world’s leading agricultural organisations, calling on negotiators to recognise the important role of agriculture in addressing climate change and asking them to approve a Work Programme for agriculture under SBSTA.

Farming First has been live-tweeting from the annual climate negotiations and ARDD, bringing our followers updates on the negotiations in relation to agriculture. We hope you will be following us during COP18 in Qatar!

Read our previous blog, summarising the outcomes of ARDD 2011.

#COP15 #COP16 #COP17 #AgClimate

 5. OECD/FAO event in Paris 

Farming First attended the FAO/OECD Expert Meeting on Greening the Economy with Agriculture in September 2011 in Paris. In conjunction with this event, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) hosted a side-event in the form of a luncheon panel discussion on the role of innovation in greening the economy with agriculture. The panel discussion, moderated by Caroline Henshaw, journalist for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, focused on the role of science and technology in helping farmers in both developed and developing countries to increase production sustainably while adapting to climate change and other challenges.

Farming First live tweeted from the event in Paris, including quotes from panel speakers Sir Gordon Conway (Professor of International Development, Imperial College London), Alice Kachere (Malawian farmer) and Mike Bushell (Principal Scientific Advisor, Syngenta).

Wall Street journal coverage from the panel discussion and a video can be seen here.


Look out for our next blog post which will feature the final five of our top ten tweet moments. If you aren’t already a follower, then you can follow us @FarmingFirst – please Tweet us, we enjoy hearing from our followers. 

The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Solutions for the Green Economy

A paper titled “Understanding the Nexus” has been published ahead of the Bonn2011 Conference ‘The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Solutions for the Green Economy’ which will be taking place later next week.

As we have previously written, the Water, Energy and Food nexus refers to the interlinked risks of water security, food security and energy security. With the current combined challenges of degraded ecosystems, a rapidly increasing demand for resources, climate change, growing urbanization and globalization, there is a threat that social-ecological systems at all levels will be driven across critical thresholds.

This new paper presents initial evidence for how a nexus approach can enhance water, energy and food security by increasing efficiency, reducing trade-offs, building synergies and improving governance across sectors.

The paper claims that:

“A nexus approach can support a transition to sustainability, by reducing trade-offs and generating additional benefits that outweigh the transaction costs associated with stronger integration across sectors.”

The authors argue that a nexus approach can create a number of opportunities, including:

–       Increased productivity of resources. The nexus focus is on system efficiency rather than on the productivity of isolated sectors.

–       Waste as a resource in muti-use systems. Cross-sectoral management can boost overall resource use efficiency. Waste can be turned into a resource for other products.

–       Stimulating development through economic incentives. A nexus approach can help to avoid investments that lock development into non-sustainable pathways.

–       Governance, institutions and policy coherence. Enabling conditions for horizontal and vertical policy coherence include institutional capacity building, political will, change agents and capacity building.

–       Benefiting from productive ecosystems. Green agriculture can provide benefits such as carbon sequestration and resilience to climate risks while improving food security.

–       Integrated poverty alleviation and green growth. Green agriculture can generate more rural jobs and increase diversity and resilience of production systems.

–       Capacity building and awareness raising. This can help to deal with the complexity of cross-sectoral approaches, and to promote sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns.

–       Moving towards a green economy. As the green economy approach seeks “to unite under a single banner the entire suite of economic policies of relevance to sustainable development”, it is the nexus approach par excellence.

You can read the paper in full here:


To read more about Farming First’s position on the green economy, watch our animated video or view our infographic please see the page on our website on agriculture and the green economy.

The Water, Food and Energy Nexus : Tackling the Challenge

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

You can read more about the Farming First principles here, download our policy paper on food security here, read about our water policy here or find our section on the green economy here.

New Farming First Video – The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy

We have created a new animated video called “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy”. The video aims to share knowledge on the green economy and the role Agriculture has to play in ensuring its success. The informative video highlights the importance of sustainable agricultural infrastructure as a core aspect of agriculture’s role within the green economy.

The video communicates a key message – that the future of our world depends on addressing global challenges now.

A transition to a green economy is already underway but the challenge is to build on this momentum. Currently, there is no international consensus on the problem of global food security or on possible solutions for how to nourish a population of nine billion people by 2050.

We need to create sustainable livelihoods, feed a growing population and safeguard the environment, and agriculture has a large role to play in making this happen. Agriculture currently accounts for 37% of employment globally, 34% of land use, 70% of water use and up to 30% of greenhouse gases.

Growth from agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty than any other sectors, and it has one of the highest potentials for mitigating carbon emissions.

Thus, we are calling for:

  • a reversal of the decline in government spending and foreign aid to agriculture that has been happening since the 1980’s
  • investment in agricultural research and science-based policies that give farmers a variety of innovative solutions
  • acknowledgement of agriculture’s ability to stimulate employment and the economy

If you liked our video, then please share it on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or email it to friends and family, and engage in conversation around the green economy. We want as many people as possible to “agvocate” with us, sharing the message that agriculture is vital for a green economy, and that there is an urgent need to put farming first.

You can watch more Farming First videos here on Farming First TV.

The creation of this video builds on previous work we have done on the green economy, including our award-winning infographic. Click here for our page on Agriculture and the Green Economy where you can watch the video, view the infographic, or download our policy paper or our guide to Green Economy Initiatives on Agriculture.

You can follow Farming First on Twitter here.