Stories tagged: principle6

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.

Farming First’s Lindiwe Sibanda and Ajay Vashee Discuss Agricultural Development Support with Voice of America

LindiweIn a recent interview aired on Voice of America, Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Ajay Vashee spoke about the decline in agricultural development support over the past generation and how that has impacted the global food crisis, particularly in Africa.  Dr. Sibanda said:

“As a result of diminished resources and lack of funds for agriculture, we saw declines in productivity, we saw people moving out of farming to rely more on commodities like minerals, and rely more on imports of food rather than produce their own.”

Ajay Vashee also warned that the scale of the need is tremendous, and agricultural investments need to be sustained and expanded further in order to reap the anticipated outcomes.

The broadcast also addressed the structure of the Obama administration’s intended agriculture plan, which includes $3.5 billion over the next three years to help developing-world farmers produce more food and get their products to market.

Critical to heading off the food crisis in Africa is the prioritisation of research imperatives (per Farming First’s Principle 6). Joachim von Braun, Director-General of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, discussed the scale of the challenge facing global agriculture:

[I]f agricultural research and development were to increase from $5 billion a year to $15 billion, “10 years later we will have…300 million [fewer] people among the hungry poor. This is the largest benefit one can achieve with this type of investment.”

At a U.N meeting in September, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined the U.S. agriculture policy:

The strategy Clinton sketched out includes many of the elements experts say developing- world farmers need most: investments in research and development, access to improved seed and fertilizer, insurance programs for small farmers, as well as improved infrastructure such as roads and storage facilities to help farmers get their products to market.

The article highlights the fact that agriculture is a “good investment” for policymakers to make and that their efforts need to be farmer-focused and knowledge-based, aimed at diversifying the range of tools which they have at their disposal over the long-term.

Listen to the complete audio broadcast here:

[audio: voiceofamericafoodsecuritysibandavashee.mp3]

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.

Climate Change Threatens Brazilian Agriculture

171519724_99bf968bc3_mOne of the many unwelcome side-effects of global warming is the unpredictable weather patterns that it causes. In Brazil, those same patterns could be the start of a severe disruption to the country’s agriculture sector.

Reuters breaks down what is at stake for Brazil and the rest of the world:

At stake is a $250 billion farm industry, food for millions of poor and supplies to world markets of Brazil’s major export crops such as soybeans and coffee.

The effects are already being felt in parts of Brazil. Excessive rains and crop disease have washed out or ruined many crops. Some farmers are looking to science for answers, as one farmer notes here:
We can’t change our planting calendar or the rains. How can I minimize my risks? We hope science will provide some answers.
Protecting harvests requires that farmers have the tools necessary to cope with changing weather and market variations. Brazil’s government has begun working with new coffee strains which resist heat (by having longer roots) to deal with the potential changes to the country’s agricultural model.
Agronomic research should aim to focus on these issues of water use, soil fertility, post-harvest losses, climate change, and alternative uses for by-products.  The impact of this will be felt globally, as Brazil is the leading exporter of coffee, beef, soybeans, orange juice, and other farm products.

New £75m UK Food Production Research Project Announced

Picture 8Over the next five years up to £75m will be invested in the UK to support development and adoption of new technologies to increase sustainable food productivity, while decreasing environmental impact.

The project is a joint initiative by the Technology Strategy Board, Defra and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), according to Farmer’s Guardian.  The aim is to “bring Government, business and researchers together in a major initiative” addressing a reliable food supply in the future.

A key element of the initiative is to prioritise research initiatives by focusing on the newest technological advances and learning how to make them work to better farming:

The first project will see up to £13m invested in new research and development to help crop growers to respond to the challenges of increasing productivity while reducing the environmental impact of crop production.

National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall echoed the call for research and understanding of how farmers can use technology to their advantage:

We need science and technology to deliver solutions and I am sure that forward-looking, innovative farm businesses across the UK will be fully supportive of this important new programme.

The subjects that the fund will address are crop productivity, sustainable livestock production, waste reduction and management and greenhouse gas reduction.

‘Science Gap’ Shrinks Globally, but Least Developed Countries Still Far Behind

Recent data released by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics(UIS) indicates that the global technology gap has been shrinking from 2002 to 2007, but the poorest countries still lag far behind.

According to a recent article on scidev.net by its director David Dickson, global trends indicate that emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil are accelerating their domestic research capacities.  China alone has increased the number of its researchers by more than three-fourths and has more than doubled its R&D spending.

These countries’ growth has helped pull the developing world as a whole to growth levels which are three times those of the developed world.  But areas like Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced more moderate growth, with the number of researchers increasing only 18% vis-a-vis total population growth, and Arab states’ R&D contributions are actually falling. The least developed countries, which host 12% of the population, have less than one percent of the world’s researchers.

If these research trends continue, countries such as India and China will become global leaders by the year 2025, at which point they are expected to account for more than one-fifth of total R&D expenditures.

And the technology gaps are still quite profound.  The developed world has only one-fifth of the population, yet accounts for three-quarters of total spending.  While part of this discrepancy might be the result of incomplete or non-existent data reporting on the part of certain developing countries, it also indicates the need for continued efforts to bridge the technology gaps which still exist globally.