Stories tagged: IFAP

Farming First’s David King Addresses UN on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

David King of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) address the UN General Assembly on Monday in New York.  He advised delegates on the potential role that farm families can play in helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Here is the text of his speech:

Roundtable 1
Intervention by IFAP Secretary General, David King
on behalf of President Ajay Vashee

September 20, 2010

United National Headquarters

Mr. President, Excellencies, Delegates and Observers,

It is an honour for me to present four key messages on poverty, food security and gender on behalf of the farm families represented by IFAP. I also bring apologies from the IFAP President, Ajay Vashee, who is unfortunately retained on his farm in Zambia.

  1. Investing in small-holder agriculture is essential to reducing hunger and poverty, and underpins success with all the Millennium Development Goals, including those regarding health and well-being.
  2. Funding agricultural development programs is critical to achieving the MDGs so we are counting on the G-8 countries to follow through on their L’Aquila funding commitments.
  3. Programs are needed that are ‘Farmer-centred and knowledge-based’ so that the full potential of farmers, both men and women, including small-holder and commercial farmers, can be harnessed in making food security and sustainable development a reality.
  4. Farmer organizations have a vital contribution to make to the development of agriculture and rural communities. Unless small-scale farmers are organized, they will remain politically powerless and economically disadvantaged. One of the keys to a successful fight against hunger and poverty is therefore having wellorganized partners to work with. Strengthening the institutional capacity of farmers’ organizations therefore needs to be a cornerstone of any strategy for reaching the rural poor.

Farmers’ organizations can contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in four ways:

  1. Policy definition and implementation, e.g. in country strategies
  2. Research: defining research priorities that meet the real needs of farmers, including the special needs of women farmers
  3. Sharing knowledge and information among their members e.g. on prevention of HIV/AIDS, or on technology transfer
  4. Strengthening the place of farmers in the market through farmer cooperatives and commodity associations

Since the world food price crisis of 2008, agriculture has become a priority for many national governments, donors and international institutions. However, in order to translate good intentions into real impacts on the ground, governments need to work with their farmer organisations as partners in a process of continual improvement of all agricultural systems, creating rural employment, protecting eco-systems, delivering fair prices for safe and nutritious food for consumers, and allowing farmers a fair return for their work. In this way, we are convinced that the MDGs can be achieved by 2015.

Providing Solutions to Climate Change in Madagascar

Madagascar is a country rich in biodiversity, but deforestation, land degradation and the effects of climate change are ravaging the nation’s natural resources. It is estimated that 20% of the island is already affected by desertification.

Eighty-five percent of the Malagasy population practice subsistence farming. More than eighty percent of the population survives on less than $2 per day, and poverty is one of the main reasons for the depletion of the country’s natural resources.

Whilst human activities on the land are significantly eroding away the land, it is the increasing frequency and increasing intensity of cyclones, floods and drought, brought on by climate change, that are making the greatest impact on the ecology, economy and the food security of Madagascar.

The government of Madagascar has resolved to fight against deforestation and the degradation of land, thereby reducing the country’s carbon emissions. According to Conservation International Madagascar, stopping deforestation would lead to a 20% reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted.

Several initiatives have been launched to combat poverty and global warming, including the National Programme for Adapting to Climate Change (PANA). In the agricultural sector, where poor practices such as overgrazing are common, farmers are being encouraged to practice crop rotation to help regenerate soils in vital nutrients and minerals.  Installing windbreaks, using fertilizers, and planting trees have also been introduced.

In order that farmers can practice these methods, they need to access the technologies and infrastructure that make it possible. Equally, giving farmers training, coordinating information campaigns and encouraging experience sharing amongst farmers are important measures to ensure that best practice can be maintained.

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

On-farm Biogas in the UK

In the UK, farmers and growers are exploring how agriculture can better contribute to combating climate change. According to a National Farmers Union (NFU) case study, farming and forestry account for about 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Ninety million tonnes of agricultural organic material, such as manure, are produced per year, which releases emissions into the atmosphere.

One solution to tackle the problem of methane emissions from livestock manures is the natural process of anaerobic digestion, which breaks methane down into biogas. The NFU’s report promotes Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants as one of the most promising mitigation options for reducing GHG emissions from animal manures and slurries, alongside the potential to deliver low carbon energy and improved nutrient management.

NFU cited the following benefits of AD systems:

  • Increase farm business profit by selling or using the energy produced
  • Help to mitigate climate change by capturing methane
  • Help to better manage manures and slurries

The NFU has been promoting biogas within the UK as a substitute for using fossil fuels either on the farm or for off-farm energy customers.

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

Testing Climate Scenarios in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, agriculture is a major economic sector. The effects of climate change in the Netherlands may cause a rise in temperature and a higher CO2 concentration, which would result in higher yields. However, climate change also poses serious threats. To anticipate the effects of a changing climate and limit the risks, whilst maximising the opportunities, climate scenarios are tested.

The Dutch National Public-Private program on Climate Research and Knowledge Infrastructure established an innovative program called ‘Spatial Planning and Climate Adaptation’ (ARK).  One of the projects that ensued was a three-phase initiative,  ‘Climate and Agriculture in Northern Netherlands’, which was set up to assess the impact of global climate change over time on agriculture and to identify the measures to be taken to damper its negative impacts.

In this project, farmers conducted a farm-level study of all the aspects of climate change and discussed the possible adaptation measures.  Numerous stakeholders were involved, spanning science, industry, business and policy, who collaborated closely with the farmers to assess scientific results against everyday practical experiences.

To predict the influence of the climate on market developments, the project tests agro-economic scenarios using four climate parameters that are like to make greatest impact on crops: temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation.

A comprehensive research programme was conducted to examine what the hindering factors for agriculture would be and what adaptation strategies could be taken.  The scenarios investigated suggested that most of the 15 crops tested would be challenged by future weather conditions, finding that potato, lily and onion were the most vulnerable.

These projected climate scenarios provide valuable insights on possible impacts of climate change in Europe and guide communities, farming businesses and policy makers identifying appropriate measures of adaptation to climate change.

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

Optimizing Water Use in Palestine

Currently in Palestine, water demand greatly exceeds water supply and the high price of water severely limits the 20% of the Palestinian labour force who are employed in agriculture. Subsequently, farmers’ livelihoods are threatened, as is food availability for the Palestinian people.

In 2007, the Palestinian Farmers’ Union (PFU) set up a Water and Environment Program to promote the equitable access of water and to strengthen farmers’ associations to better manage water distribution and agricultural water demand.   As part of the scheme, farmers are encouraged to adopt innovative approaches to optimize their use of water and fight water shortages.

Through the project, about 80 farmers in Jericho City – Jordan Valley – benefited from new on-farm irrigation equipments to irrigate more than 50 ha of agricultural land. The project also provided farmers with the appropriate training for such systems. An experimental pilot project to control fertilizer application was also produced.

Additionally, the PFU lobbied the authorities to place farmers and water users at the centre of the decision process, to win farmers the right to manage irrigation water resource by themselves.  As the final beneficiaries, they are consequently the most aware of their own needs and can create the most effective solutions.

The two-year water optimization project led to significant results, including a 30% increase on water savings, 25% increase on inputs savings and 15% in yield increases.

  • The reduction of inputs means an increase of 15 to 25% of farmers’ income.
  • Farmers, who are at the bottom of the food security chain, are back in the decision process.
  • Farmers can better manage water resources, collaborate and negotiate with other stakeholders.

To better manage an irrigation network, the PFU assists farmers in their efforts to organize themselves and create water user associations (WUAs) in which farmers are responsible for fully overseeing the operation of the agricultural water delivery facility. Building the capacities of both WUAs and farmers is the backbone of success for this transfer of knowledge.

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

Anti-Soil Erosion Practices Help Preserve Biodiversity in Albania

Albania is gifted with a rich biodiversity, but this variety is vulnerable to climate change impacts. The coastal habitats in the Mediterranean are fragile ecosystems, and the land is under threat of coastal erosion, waterlogging and increased salinity. Inland, approximately 25% of the land suffers from natural soil erosion due to the corrosive effects of the rivers. Such deterioration of the land threatens the farmers’ ability to cultivate enough food.

An IFAP case study reports that several projects have been undertaken in Albania to stop further land degradation. Many Albanian female farmers have implemented good agricultural practices to maintain soil productivity, conserve water and lower production costs by practising crop rotation, intercropping, composting, selection of resistant varieties and using effective irrigation systems.

Farmers of 25 communes in remote areas have recently received payments from the World Bank Bio Carbon Fund as an incentive to manage and care for their forests, helping to preserve ecosystems.

Further projects include afforestation, improvement of irrigation systems and a democratic-approach to involve farmers, particularly women, in the decision-making processes of agro-environmental policy making.

For more information, visit

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).