Combining Traditional Knowledge and Climate Science in Chad

This blog post by Giacomo Rambaldi, from CTA – the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation. This blog first appeared on the Reuters Alternet blog Climate Conversations. Reuters Alertnert is the Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011 media partner.

Fulani-Mbororo pastoralists in Chad rest near their cattle. Photo: CTA

Bouba Mal Yaya is a herdsman from the Fulani-Mbororo peoples in Chad. Along with his fellow herders, he had been expecting good grazing for his cattle this year but this has not been the case.

He is confused and frustrated. He had always been able to rely on his people’s age-old knowledge of their ecosystem to sustainably manage grazing. This traditional knowledge has been used by his people to develop strategies to cope with seasonal weather patterns and manage their meagre resources.

The community has typically looked to the elders for predictions on rainfall distribution, drought and other seasonal patterns. Now, it would appear that the reliability of their prediction is undermined by increasingly unpredictable weather and climate conditions. Their livelihoods and future as a culture are under threat.

The cause? Climate change. Continue reading

L’approche ‘champs écoles’ permet aux petits producteurs du Mali de s’adapter aux changements climatiques

Cet article a été publié sur le site New Agriculturalist

Ces dernières années, le Mali a été confronté à plusieurs événements liés à la variabilité climatique. En 2009, 700.000 têtes de bétail ont été décimées par la sécheresse ; en 2011, une sérieuse baisse de précipitations a fait chuter les rendements des cultures dans certaines régions du pays, entraînant une réduction de 80% de la sécurité alimentaire de la population rurale. Les projections indiquent d’autre part que le Mali sera confronté à un avenir que l’on prévoit plus chaud, marqué de sécheresses et inondations, de recrudescences des criquets et d’absence subséquente d’aliments. Dès lors, chaque agriculteur se voit obligé de s’adapter aux changements, ce qui exige des compétences, des connaissances et des innovations scientifiques et techniques. Continue reading

Speaking with a Single Voice on Agriculture

This letter to the editor by Bruce Campbell, the Director of the  CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and a lead organizer of Agriculture & Rural Development Day 2011, appears in today’s Financial Times. Read it below.

Sir, In your November 26 editorial “Inconvenient truth”, you rightly point out that “leaders must fortify popular support for the solutions” to climate change. But we must also, as scientists, policymakers, businesspeople and financial institutions, help them by building consensus amongst ourselves on the most urgent priorities to be addressed.

To this end, my research organisation has joined more than a dozen other agricultural groups, including three United Nations agencies, the World Bank, the World Farmers’ Organisation and the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, to speak with a single voice to negotiators at the upcoming climate talks in Durban.

Together, we call on climate negotiators to endorse a work programme for agriculture, a sector that astonishingly remains out of any climate deal despite being the sector that will be particularly hit by climate change and accounting for between 16 and 29 per cent of total emissions.

The “more extreme heatwaves and coastal flooding” to which you refer will impact poor farmers most, especially in the developing world. The agricultural sector must be empowered to take early action to determine the long-term investments needed to transform agriculture to meet future food and energy challenges effectively.

Bruce Campbell, Director, CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture; c/o Department of Agriculture and Ecology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Cashing in on Climate Change – With Apples

This blog post by Neil Palmer, from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in Colombia. This blog first appeared on the CIAT website, and was also published on the Reuters Alternet blog Climate Conversations. Reuters Alertnert is the Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011 media partner.

An apple farmer in Himachal Pradesh shows off the local bounty. Photo: Neil Palmer, CIAT

There are no apples on the trees in Burva village at this time of the year, but the impact of apples is everywhere.

Take 58-year-old Balakram Thakur. He was born and raised in a traditional two-storey house made from wood, mud and stone. Now he lives across the road in a three storey brick abode with no fewer than 13 rooms. There are two cars in the driveway, and a tractor.

He attributes everything to apples. Continue reading

World Farmers Call for Climate Action

“Farmers must have the ability to choose the production systems and tools that are appropriate to them, their family and community,” said Robert Carlson, President of the World Farmers Organisation. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT).

Agriculture is a key part of the solution to both food security and climate change, and is therefore an important deliverable of the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP). World Farmers Organisations calls for an incentive based approach and increased investments in research, development and improved agricultural practices. The COP is urged to recommend an agriculture work program under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) that covers both adaptation and mitigation. Continue reading

Victim and Culprit: Why COP 17 Can’t Ignore Agriculture

This blog post by Sir Gordon Conway, Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change and a keynote speaker at this year’s Agriculture and Rural Development Day, appeared in The Huffington Post. Read it here or below. 

While climate sceptics continue to muddy the waters, African farmers know from their day to day experience that the climate is changing and they are having to adapt.

I am writing this in the savannah zone of northern Ghana where the rainfall is normally erratic, but has become increasingly more so in recent years. This year has been particularly bad, the rains starting a month late and ending a month early. Rice yields have been low, and the quality has suffered as high temperatures cause grains to shatter on milling.

At the southern end of the continent the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is meeting for COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. But will the links between climate change and agriculture get the attention they deserve in these discussions?

Agriculture is both a victim and culprit of climate change, and I believe there is a critical need to bring it into the heart of climate change negotiations.

Continue reading

How We Can Have Our Corn and Eat It Too

This blog post by By Troels Yde Toftdahl, Danish Agriculture & Food Council appeared on the Reuters Alternet blog Climate Conversations. Reuters Alertnert is the Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011 media partner.

Inbicon biofuels facility in Kalundborg, Denmark, 2010. PHOTO/Inbicon

Biofuels are not just biofuels. Today, most of the world’s biofuel production is based on so-called first-generation crops, including sugar cane, wheat, corn and rapeseed. Residues from agriculture, forestry and food processing, however, can also be used – for so-called next-generation biofuels.

Residues make it possible to have biofuels and food, biofuels and rural development, biofuels and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In short, with next-generation biofuels we can have our corn and eat it. This is the case in Denmark, where cars and buses already run on biodiesel made from slaughter-house residues and bioethanol made from straw.  Continue reading

Agriculture: A Call to Action for COP17 Climate Change Negotiators

Leading agricultural agencies have called for a Work Programme for agriculture under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Photo: P. Casier, CCAFS.

Today, the coalition of agricultural organisations behind Agriculture and Rural Development Day have called upon climate change negotiators to recognise the essential role of agriculture in the fight against climate change. Continue reading

Southern African Farmers Call for Agriculture in Climate Deal

The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions is bringing farmers' views to the negotiating table in Durban. Photo: ILRI/Mann.

Guest post by Manyewu Mutamba from the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU). Post originally published on the CGIAR Climate blog.

Agriculture is the economic foundation of most African countries and it makes a significant contribution to food security, employment and poverty alleviation for millions of households on the continent. Climate change will challenge farmers’ ability to produce for their needs and the markets. African farmers are particularly in grave danger from the impacts of climate change due to their production circumstances, including lack of assets and poor access to services. Already we can see the change of seasons, they are becoming irregular with shorter cropping seasons and some varieties of crops no longer growing in certain regions. Floods and droughts are becoming more severe.

This scenario tells us that farming for the future cannot be business as usual. If the agriculture sector does not respond to the challenges of climate change, millennium development goals, including food security and poverty reduction targets will not be achieved. Surprisingly, up to now there is no mention of agriculture in the agreed text of the global climate change negotiations. The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) wants to change this, and bring farmers’ views to the negotiating table. Continue reading