Stories tagged: principle3

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.

Interactive Map Celebrates Agriculture’s Success Stories Across the World

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has just launched an interactive world map highlighting some of the many success stories in agricultural development from around the world.  It is part of a wider upcoming launch of their newest publication, Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development, which will be released on 12 November.

The interactive map allows viewers to explore case studies of how agricultural research has benefited individual countries and regions.  Each case study identifies key periods of time, target regions, and a more detailed account of each intervention.  It also provides additional links to related case studies from elsewhere.

The range of case studies includes:

  • Combating cassava diseases in Nigeria and Ghana: This programme has contributed to 40% yield increases and has benefited 29 million local people
  • Introducing zero-tillage agriculture in Argentina: This practice has improved soil fertility, created new agricultural jobs, and helped keep global soybean prices low
  • Improving mungbean yields and resilience in south Asia: Introducing new varieties of mungbeans has helped improve yields, shorten maturity times, and increase resilience to pests to the extent that global production increased by 35% over the past 25 years.

There are many more case studies on the site, which helps create a visual cue for understanding agriculture’s advancements since the mid-20th century.

Blog Action Day 2009: Research Linking Climate-induced Conflict and Farming

Farming First is participating in Blog Action Day 2009, which brings the world’s bloggers together to discuss a common issue from their own perspectives.  More than 6800 blogs in 135 countries will be addressing this year’s topic of climate change.

For our part, we’re looking at an interesting article appearing in The Economist this week discusses the findings from a study done by two academics about the history of climate-induced warfare.

The study, by Richard Tol of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, and Sebastian Wagne of GKSS, a research institute near Hamburg, looked to find whether a correlation existed between climate and the number of conflicts registered over the past thousand years.

Their research concluded that until the mid-18th century more conflicts were registered during periods of low temperature.  And they think the effect on agriculture is the reason why:

Dr Tol and Dr Wagner suggest that in the more remote past the effects of cold weather on harvests led to supply shortages, and that these increased the likelihood of people fighting over food and the land needed to produce it.

However, the research found that the relationship between the two vanished in the mid-18th century, around the time that the Industrial Revolution began to take root:

These developments meant farmers could often produce reasonable yields during colder weather—and even when they could not, long-distance trade provided a buffer against crop failure. Meanwhile, the growth of cities and non-agricultural occupations meant there was money to buy such traded crops.

The lesson to be taken from this, according to the researchers, was that reliable supplies of food could minimise the instances of climate-related conflict. To ensure this, they stress the continued importance of investing in technologies which help improve crop yields and resilience.  The process of sharing knowledge and building local access and capacity for farmers is also key:

[T]he way to minimise the likelihood of climate-induced conflict in the future is to continue the process of crop improvement (for example, by taking advantage of the potential of genetic engineering) so that heat- and drought-tolerant varieties are available; to make farmers aware of these new crops and encourage their use; and to promote free trade and non-agricultural economic development.

This study reinforces the idea that political and social stability (vs. conflict) is related to a reliable supply of food and a coordinated structure of support for the world’s farmers.

Drip Irrigation Helps Farmers in Bangladesh Grow Crops in Salt-affected Soil during Dry Season

March and April are the driest months in Bangladesh.  During this time, up to 880,000 hectares of land is left fallow because of the intrusion of saltwater into the soil.

Bangladesh is benefiting from new research into how to make this land productive during the dry season.   Using simple drip irrigation technology on raised planting beds, tomato farmers were able to increase their yields fourfold by leeching salts out of the root zone of the plants.  Water for the drip irrigation is taken from ponds set up to collect rainwater.  As a result, salinity levels drop to less than 30% of levels typically recorded.

Researchers at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in conjunction with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) determined that this innovative farming practice had a benefit-cost ratio of 4.71.  This means that for every dollar (or Bangladeshi taka) invested in the technology, it would return $4.71 extra in profits.

The extra yields could help feed the country’s 140 million people or could be sold as a cash crop to generate incomes.

Innovative Research Could Save Indian Potato Farmers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Each Year

Potato blight is a disease caused by a fungus which targets potatoes both in the field and in storage.  It can destroy an entire crop of potatoes within one or two weeks, and it can survive year after year in the tubers of infected potatoes, which release millions of new spores when the next rainy season comes around.

Potato blight has devastated potato crops for hundreds of years.  In 2007, 70% of India’s potato crop and 50% of Bangladesh’s crop were destroyed.  This blight was also responsible for the Irish potato famine, which killed millions of farmers in the mid 19th century.

To combat this disease, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison worked to isolate a blight-resistant gene in a wild relative of the potato.  They then partnered with an Indian organization to insert this gene into potato cultivars grown across South Asia.  Other collaborators on the project included the US Agency for International Development, Cornell University, India’s Central Potato Research Institute and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute.

As highlighted in the 2009 Better World Report, a recent round of field trials has proven successful, and the new potatoes will be licensed to both private and public enterprises soon.  This means that poorer farmers can also access the seeds through local distribution channels.

A team of economists estimates that farmers will be able to double their incomes as a result of this new development.  They will require less chemicals to protect their crops, and they are more likely to have excess yield which they can sell as a cash crop.  The labour required to farm potatoes is also expected to decrease by 11%.

FAO Issues Progress Report on the Status of African Agricultural Growth

In the lead-up to its High-Level Expert Forum in Rome this October, the FAO has issued a cautiously optimistic progress report on the state of the African agricultural sector, as reported in a recent article by Voice of America.

The FAO has calculated that agriculture has grown by 3.5% in 2008, largely due to better policies and more uptake of new technologies such as drought-resistant rice.

Keith Wiebe, FAO’s Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development Economics division, said:

After a long period of neglect, the importance of agriculture is becoming more clear to all of us.  And that is resulting in improvements in some of the supporting services and infrastructure that are the real obstacle to improved growth in Africa.

Women are a key part of the agricultural workforce as they represent about 80% of those working in the sector.  They will be expected to double food production in order to feed an African population that is set to grow from 770 million in 2005 to over billion by mid-century.