Stories tagged: principle1

Agriculture: an Answer to Global Warming?

A recent report by the Worldwatch Institute covering climate change through food and land use, suggests that agriculture can play a big part in any solution to global warming.

In a summary of the report, the authors describe:

More than 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emission arise from the land use sector. Thus, no strategy for mitigating global climate change can be complete or successful without reducing emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other land uses.

According to the report, land-based sequestration offers through plant photosynthesis the possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. Such food productions and land innovations are also ready to be put into use, in contrast to carbon capture technology, which tehy estimate would take a decade to put into operation, even if determined to be effective.

The report outlines five major strategies to reduce and sequester carbon. These are:

  • Enriching soil carbon
  • Farming with perennials
  • Climate-friendly livestock production
  • Protecting natural habitat, and
  • Restoring degraded watersheds and range lands.

DfID Funds Infrastructure, ‘Best Bets’ for Agriculture in Africa

The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) has recently launched its new report, entitled “Eliminating World Poverty: Building our Common Future.”

Two implicit dimensions are rreflected in this report’s title.  Firstly, the world already has many good solutions for reducing world hunger, but they simply need to be scaled up and funded in order to work at a broader level.  Secondly, while many markets are still fragmented and inefficient,these markets are increasingly part of a common globalised economy, in which we all participate.

Two interesting African initiatives highlighted in the report and being funded by DfID are the North-South Transport Corridor and the ‘best bets’ approach to agriculture.

The North-South Transport Corridor is a $1.2 billion project which will upgrade 4,000 kilometres of road and 600 kilometres of rail track.  The goal of the project is to free up bottlenecks in shipping and other transport, especially in parts of eastern and southern Africa.

DfID’s ‘best bets’ for agriculture will see funding going to “the innovations with the greatest potential to lift poor people out of poverty, and to getting these into widespread use.”  AS DfID sees it, these include:

  • tackling new pests which attack staple crops, such as virulent wheat rust and cassava viruses.  This will cost £20 million but could help protect almost three billion people who depend on these crops for their food
  • breeding drought-resistant maize for Africa.  This will cost up to £60 million but will help 320 millino farmers in Africa who are affected by drought and will indirectly benefit many more likely to be affected by climate change.
  • improving the vitamin content of staple crops. To develop these crops and get them into widespread use will cost around £80 million but it has the potential to help improve the nutrition of up to 670 million of the poorest people, many of them children.

UK Environment Secretary Declares, “We Face a Crisis of Sustainability”

35601Hilary Benn, the UK Environment Secretary, visited the US for meetings with Ban Ki-Moon and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. According to a DEFRA statement, They discussed the topics of climate change adaptation, food security, and the green economy.

He said:

These threats are real, they are immediate, and they will affect us all. Environmental degradation is putting an increasing strain on our natural resources, and it is both a cause and an effect of climate change.

To solve these global challenges, Benn highlighted the need for a more sustainable and productive model for agriculture, as well as more sustianable building practices, transport, and energy production.

The goal of reinvigorating the agricultural sector, he continued, would have to be accomplished through increased  collaboration and commitment from around the world:

We need the world to come together to deal with water scarcity, the damaging loss of biodiversity, and the challenge of producing enough food. The World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and others, need to respond to crises and support the investment that will secure supplies in the long-term.

Read the ‘Farming First’ Speech Given at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development

Presented Tuesday, May 12th
Dialogue with Major Groups

Madam Chair, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am Dr. Sarala Gopalan, a farmer from India. I am speaking on behalf of a multi-disciplinary team: Farmers, Science and Technology, and Business who have joined together calling for a new model for agriculture based on knowledge and people – Farming First.

After too many years of neglect of agriculture in national policies, Farming First returns farmers to the centre of policy decisions. Governments, businesses, scientists, engineers, and civil society groups must focus their attention and prioritize the source of global food security in all development efforts.

Farming First is not just words; it is a real partnership to enhance complementarities to achieve sustainable agriculture and a better livelihood in rural areas.

The six pillars of Farming First are about the inter-linkages and continuous cycle of resources, knowledge and tools for farmers to use sustainable agricultural practices.

As CSD-17 discusses inter-linkages, we would like to stress that Farming First promotes an integrated approach which is more than agriculture. We truly believe that focusing on farming is a key mechanism to foster economic and social development for millions of individuals and food security for all.

1) Safeguarding natural resources is the first pillar of the Farming First concept. It emphasizes the importance of land and water management, which should be improved through the widespread adoption of sustainable practices of land use, including conservation tillage and other techniques.  Our coalition agrees strongly with the need stated by the women’s major group to ensure proper land tenure rights for women in particular.

2) The second pillar is Sharing knowledge. We need to put in place an improved mechanism for  extension services – which are neither “top down” nor “bottom up” but truly collaborative.  Demonstration projects can harmonize global research and best practices with existing local knowledge, including that of indigenous people.

3) Building local access to ensure that farmers have access to resources to manage their production more efficiently with emphasis on capacity building, with the support of appropriate infrastructure – particularly roads, ports, and existing technology – to make supplies available in rural communities and to allow access to markets as highlighted during the side event held by the engineers.

We also wish to join with our colleagues in the trade unions to stress the importance of decent work and training for farmers and agricultural workers.

4) Protecting harvests is the fourth pillar of Farming First. In many of the poorest countries, 20 to 40% of crop yields are lost because of inadequate pre- and post-harvest support. One of the most important ways to improve productivity is to minimise losses through local storage capacities and transportation mechanisms as well as provision of  risk management tools to protect farmers in the face of climate variations and market failures. We are eager to explore with the Youth Major Group, the opportunities to change unsustainable consumption patterns.  Food spoilage in the developing world and food waste in the developed world are equally problems.

5) Farming First aims at helping subsistence farmers to become small-scale entrepreneurs. Linking farmers to markets is essential, should we want to make them become real entrepreneurs. Farmers need to be able to get their produce on to the market and receive equitable price treatments for it. Both NGOs and local authorities have outlined the importance of developing fair markets.

6) Once products have been sold, we need to continually improve the cycle. Prioritising research imperatives is Farming First’s sixth and last pillar. Achieving sustainable agriculture requires applied research and available, appropriate technology, prioritising locally relevant crops and farmers’ needs, stewardship techniques, and adaptation to climate change. This will ensure that farmers’ needs are taken into account and that they benefit from continuously updated and improved tools and knowledge to enable them to successfully achieve all the other steps of the process.

Madam Chair, Farming First is about a process of continual improvement that applies to ALL forms of agricultural systems including organic, conventional and others.  Every system must be made more sustainable, today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.

Please visit farmingfirst.org to lend your voice to our effort. In just a few weeks since we launched the site, 1300 individuals have already said they concur with the principles of Farming First.

Finally, Madam Chair, at the eve of the High Level Segment, we do not want the CSD to miss the opportunity to create a realistic, action-oriented text on agricultural and rural development.  With this is mind, we would like to ask the Ministers and Official country representatives what the prospects may be to achieve that goal, and what expectations you may have from Farming First partners for implementation following the negotiations?

CNBC Africa’s ‘Regional Round-up’ Programme Interviews Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda

cnbcafrica_dark_backgroundCNBC Africa’s ‘Regional Roundup’ programme looks at the issues, trends, and events that are shaping the investment landscape across Africa — politically, socially, and economically.

Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda discussed how the Farming First principles can be applied to boost the agricultural sector and to support the wider economy.  She highlighted the need for more secure access to inputs and to a guaranteed marketplace where agricultural surpluses can be sold.

Dr. Sibanda also spoke of the need to create more linkages between the various agriculture-related programmes and policies which currently exist, and she discussed the opportunity which Zimbabwe has to apply these to their agricultural sector.

Watch Dr. Sibanda’s interview here:

G8 on the Right Track

3878838138_c08d786bb9The first ever meeting of G8 agriculture ministers in Italy last weekend recognised the real difficulties facing the world in feeding itself. But the G8 ministers admitted they are “very far from reaching” the UN target of halving the number of people experiencing chronic hunger by 2015. The UN told the G8 that the number of chronically hungry people is continuing to rise (bringing the number of malnourished people well above the one billion mark).

There is a need for a radical shift in thinking which places the farmer at the centre of a new approach. New investments, incentives and innovations are needed to achieve greater sustainability while delivering increased agricultural production. This needs to be backed-up by a stable policy framework and investment strategy which assists farmers – and particularly smallholder farmers – to sustain both themselves and the world’s growing population. The kind of change proposed in Farming First’s call to action which puts farmers at the heart of the solution.

As the G8 declaration has rightly recognised, “agriculture and food security are at the heart of the international agenda”. Commenting before the meeting, United States Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said:

This is not just about food security, this is about national security, it is about environmental security…

I can figure out there are only three things that could happen if people do not have food: people could riot, that they have done; people migrate to places where there is food, which creates additional challenges; or people die.

Much of what was said in the G8 ministers’ final declaration echoes the call made by the coalition supporting Farming First. The Farming First plan is based on six principles: safeguarding natural resources; sharing knowledge; building local access; protecting harvests; enabling access to markets; and prioritising research imperatives.

The final declaration called for “enhanced support including investments in agricultural science, research, technology, education and innovation” as well as supporting “efforts against wastage along the food chain in developing countries” and identifiying “the necessity to provide smallholder farming access to land, credit, technical assistance, education and crop insurance, as well as allowing family farmers to have access to local and international markets was underlined.”

Host minister, Italy’s Luca Zaia, told the post-meeting press conference:

Food security requires targeted policies to guarantee effective management and sustainable utilization of natural resources involving local communities in accordance with their identities… We commit ourselves to increasingly share technology, processes and ideas with other countries.

China’s vice minister of agriculture, Niu Dun, told the G8 meeting that the international community:

should build up capacity in monitoring and conducting early-warning on global food security. Developing countries should intensify cooperation in food security, making it a critical platform for common response to food insecurity and financial crisis.

Further more detailed discussions will take place at the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in May and the full G8 summit in Italy in July. Hopefully, these meetings will culminate in what the world requires: real, financed commitments.