Stories tagged: principle2

UN Report: Low-carbon Farms Can Raise Food Output

According to a newly launched UN report, low-carbon farming can both curb climate change and boost food output in developing nations. The agency’s report, “Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries,” suggests that because of this fact, low-carbon farms must be rewarded under a global climate deal due in December.

In a Reuters article, Leslie Lipper, FAO economist and co-author of the report said that financing remains a major hurdle to greater implementation:

“A key part of the problem is a lack of financing.  If adopted by farmers, many of these practices make them better off, but in the short run they may face reduced income,” Lipper said, using the example of removing cattle to allow grasslands to recover.

In terms of contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, the report estimated that farms accounts for 10-12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions directly.  It also estiamted that $210bn would be needed between now and 2050 to help farms upgrade sufficiently to meet future yield needs.

Developing countries could raise about $30bn annually toward this investment through carbon market financing.  Measuring such improvements to the carbon efficiency of farm production is currently being researched.

Supporting Rural Development in Guatemala

In the Cuchumatanes Highlands in Guatemala, The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been supporting a rural community development project.

The project aims to improve the livelihoods of 22,000 families with incomes below the poverty line. A needs analysis demonstrated that one of the problems in the area was poor handling and application of crop protection products, leading to health and environmental risks.

As a result, IFAD formed a partnership with CropLife Latin America to provide training for the project beneficiaries.

A multiple approach was used: teaching Integrated Pest Management (IPM) concepts and proper, safe use of crop protection products to farmers and their families, school teachers and health workers; a one-year course for schoolchildren on environmental protection; training teachers on the benefits and risks of crop protection products; communicating to housewives the importance of washing farmers’ clothes separately so as to avoid contamination of other clothes and water supplies; providing information to health workers at medical and paramedical levels on treatments in the event of accidents; and the training of trainers to amplify the reach of the programme goals.

A similar programme has started in the Dominican Republic and plans are being implemented to expand it throughout Central America.

This initiative in Guatemala echoes two of Farming First’s principles: Sharing knowledge and Building local access and capacity.

There are currently four IFAD-supported projects ongoing in Guatemala. Among them is a rural development project in the Western Region.

The target group comprises smallholder farmers, landless farmers, and microentrepreneurs and artisans. The programme will reach minority groups, particularly indigenous populations with lower educational levels and very limited access to productive resources.

For farmers in Guatemala, such assistance is needed as the country is facing the worst drought in 30 years.

China, Taiwan Partner for Agriculture Initiative

TAIW0001Over the weekend mainland China and Taiwan produced a common initiative on cooperation in the agriculture sector.  More than 220 officials, experts and representatives from agriculture, fishery and water resources joined the meeting. Chinese state media Xinhua has more:

The two sides will promote the development of new-type agriculture, encourage cooperation in agricultural biotechnology industry, and work to set up a long-standing consultative mechanism on agricultural cooperation, said the common initiative produced by the symposium, held first in Shanghai and then Zhejiang.

Both sides are pushing for this to be a shared venture, where information on agriculture passes freely between the mainland and Taiwan. Sharing knowledge is one of the key principles which Farming First supports and this initiative exemplifies how this can be done on a grand scale:

The two sides will also establish a reporting mechanism to share information on the quality and safety of agricultural products, said the initiative.

According to Xinhua, the symposium was co-sponsored by 10 NGOs from both the mainland and Taiwan.

Training Courses in Vietnam Use Contests, Storytelling to Reach Out to Farmers

Vegetable production is very important to Vietnam’s economy, with many farmers seeking access to export markets as a means of improving their livelihoods. However, meeting quality requirements for export produce can be a challenge for farmers.

As a response to this issue, the Plant Protection Department (PPD) of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with CropLife Asia, introduced a joint campaign in 2003.

Initially, one hundred and thirty trainers were trained over a six-day course in Ha Tay and Ho Chi Minh City. Farmer training courses then took place at 33 farmer field schools in four target provinces. The project also included innovative methods, such as farmer contests and community drama to improve the outreach to more stakeholders and make the programme more attractive and interesting to participants. The community dramas were broadcast on Vietnam Television and reached millions of viewers.

Three broadcasts were made as a result and they attracted additional attention through a national competition for script writers. The winning screenplays were broadcast on network television. Another outcome of the project was the creation of a forum between farmers and staff from the Ministry, which has helped communications and kept farmers updated on new regulations.

Farming First Launches Climate Change Recommendations to Copenhagen Leaders

climatechangeimageMore than a billion farmers and their families around the world are on the front line of climate change. Their lives and livelihoods are directly affected by its impact, and they are also vital to implementing many of the solutions we need to help delay and deflect it.

Members of the Farming First coalition believe that:

  1. Agriculture generally, and farmers especially, are vital to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
  2. Increasing farm productivity in a sustainable way and decreasing waste and losses can significantly mitigate the effects of climate change, prevent deforestation, and protect biodiversity.
  3. Adopting proven sustainable agricultural practices reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhances the effect of natural carbon sinks.
  4. Further research and innovation are essential to invent the necessary adaptation and mitigation solutions.

Download the action plan (PDF) Download the press release (PDF)

Therefore, farmers must be involved in implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. To support them, we must create sound and reliable incentives; we must share knowledge; and we must make adequate tools and technologies accessible to deliver both food and energy security.

As key stakeholders in agriculture, the world’s farmers, agronomists, scientists, engineers and industries are working together through an open coalition, to provide innovative solutions which reduce emissions from agriculture and adapt to climate change while increasing agricultural productivity to meet growing food needs.

Given growing food demands, we believe that rather than pursuing blanket reduction targets for GHG emissions in agriculture, governments should commit to climate change mitigation through improved and sustainable agricultural productivity across multiple factors including water use, carbon efficiency, improved nutrient use efficiency, and land-use intensity.

In response, the Farming First coalition would like to bring forward a series of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in accordance with its six-point action plan for enhancing sustainable development through agriculture.

The Farming First coalition calls on all governments active in the COP15 negotiations to:

1. Support the unique role of agriculture in the global climate change response.

  • Ensure that agriculture is included within the UNFCCC negotiations at COP15 in Copenhagen.
  • Refrain from setting an absolute emission reduction target for agriculture as an industry.

2. Encourage the use of all available and applicable climate change solutions.

  • Promote agricultural best practices, particularly Integrated Crop Management (ICM), conservation agriculture, intercropping and fertilizer best management practices.
  • Support increased investment in agricultural research, including links between agriculture and climate change, involving research centres, programmes and industry R&D.

3. Promote funding mechanisms which support the needs of all levels and forms of farming.

  • Urge agricultural inclusion within multilateral financial mechanisms, potentially including the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI).
  • Promote voluntary carbon credit systems for GHG offsets from agriculture and land use to reward farmers for their contribution.
  • Extend the scope of carbon markets to encompass the critical role of soil as a carbon sink.
  • Establish international technology assessment and sharing programmes for climate change, as well as capacity-building programmes, including the development of local and global centres of excellence.

4. Reward resource-based productivity improvements as a direct contributor to climate-change effectiveness.

  • Encourage productivity improvements – in a sustainable way – on existing agricultural land to avoid additional land clearing and give priority to the rehabilitation of degraded agricultural soils.
  • Recognise the positive contribution of sustainable land management practices through increased coordinated agricultural research.
  • Include robust methodologies and field-testing to overcome uncertainties around measurement, reporting and verification.
  • Provide incentives to farmers and other stakeholders which reward adoption of sustainable and responsible production systems, better performing technologies and the efforts of early adopters.

5. Invest in capability sharing to encourage all farmers to play a role in climate change while safeguarding local and global food security.

  • Enhance capacity building to implement sustainable land management policies and programmes.
  • Create a dedicated adaptation fund for agriculture accessible to farmers’ organisations in developing countries.

Read the full Farming First climate change policy on the Farming First site here.

Walking on Water: Low-cost Treadle Pumps Help Indian Farmers

The Gates Foundation has provided this video to show how one of their grantees’ low-cost treadle pumps are helping Indian farmers access irrigated water for their crops.

These water pumps are supplied by International Development Enterprises (IDE).  They are designed to be cost-effective and low-maintenance, with only one part needed to be changed each year at a cost of 20 U.S. cents. Farmers simply dig a bore hole, insert a plastic tube into the hole and then connect the pump to this tube.  Farmers then operate the pump using their leg muscles, and they can even pump extra water into adjacent reservoirs for on-going regulated use.

Only one in three farmers currently has access to irrigation in India.  Accessing this technology helps smallholder farmers make more long-term investments, such as improved seeds and fertilizers, for their fields.  Farmers might even be able to begin growing more lucrative cash crops such as fruits or vegetables.

In an innovative promotional campaign, IDE shares this knowledge with farmers by bringing movie screens into rural communities in the back of a van.  Farmers are incentivised to watch a short presentation about the treadle water pumps by the promise of a free movie feature which is aired after the presentation finishes.