Climate Smart Agriculture is the Term to Remember

by David Lansley and Kristin Donaldson, World Vision Australia

Spent Saturday at the Agriculture and Rural Development Day (that’s OK – I don’t mind giving up my  Saturday for a good cause). The line-up of speakers was impressive, including Sir John Beddington, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.

The point was made very clearly from lots of different directions that agriculture has a big role to play in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and poverty reduction. Growth in the agriculture sector is estimated to be three times more effective in raising incomes than growth in any other sector.

The term to remember for agriculture is climate smart agriculture. (Please don’t call it CSA – if acronyms were greenhouse gases, the world would already be at 60 degrees and rising fast.) Continue reading

Adapt or Die, Say Small Farmers

by Caitlin Corner-Dolloff, Oxford ECI. This post has also been published on the CCAFS blog.

Adapt or die is a resonating reality that is coming out of Agriculture and Rural Development Day and many of the COP17 side events. Farmers, especially subsistence farmers in Africa, have already started adapting. A coordinated effort on adaptation initiatives is needed. The challenge then is figuring out what information is needed to make adaptation decisions. This inevitably provokes the questions of whose knowledge in included and whose perspectives are predominant.

A number of organizations, including AFPAT, CTA, and IPACC, are voicing the imperative need to combine Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with atmospheric science, especially in the case of pastoralists facing climate change. Mosses Ndiyaine, a Maasai pastoralist from Tanzania, spoke about how his community utilizes knowledge about their local environment to predict when the rain will come. He pointed out the use of changes in visible star patterns, behavioral cues from goats, and monitoring the flowering patterns of specific local trees as indicators of coming rains. For pastoralists this means when they decided to move. Continue reading

Building Momentum for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Support farmers' efforts to adapt to climate change. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)

by Nathan Russell, CIAT

Before the closing session of Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban, South Africa, a high-Level Panel of experts charted the way forward with climate-smart agriculture. Summarized below are their main conclusions from a discussion facilitated by Laurie Goering, editor of the Thomas Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet Climate, which acted as media sponsor for the day.

Mamadou Goita, Executive Secretary, West African Network of Farmers’ Organizations (ROPPA, its acronym in French): Start where farmers are today. Support their efforts to adapt to climate change through research that genuinely responds to their needs, while rapidly scaling up the best practices. Continue reading

Food Security: A Climate Justice Approach

Speech by Dr. Mary Robinson, President, The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today – over lunch I had the opportunity to hear about the discussions you had in the working sessions this morning and I look forward to learning more from you all this afternoon.

COP17 is a vital test of the international community’s willingness to tackle the issues that result from the impact of climate change, including the most fundamental issue of food security. We are having these discussions on the continent of Africa – where hunger and under nutrition are ever present threats. The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 925 million people in the world go hungry every day. And every year 3.5 million children die from under nutrition, while 11% of the total disease burden is attributable to maternal and child under nutrition. Continue reading

Who knows what about climate change?

Bringing rural farmers and herders to bring them into the scientific fold. Photo: ILRI/ Dave Elsworth

by Jeremy Cherfas, Bioversity International

Climate science is of great value to pastoralists; they can use it to avoid and manage risks. And long before there were climate scientists, pastoralists were making use of what they knew to decide when to move and to where. What can scientists learn from traditional knowledge? And how might pastoralists benefit from climate science?

“Often our traditional knowledge is ignored,” Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim told the audience at a Learning Event on the integration of traditional knowledge with atmospheric science during Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011. Continue reading

What will the African Agriculture Revolution look like?

by Michael Victor, CPWF

Africa is going through its own agriculture revolution. According to studies from the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, Africa can produce 3-4 times more food through improved agriculture water management practices.

The learning event on “How can rainwater management help support smallholder farmers’ ability to adapt to climate variability and change?” explored how rainwater management strategies have the potential to boost agriculture production across the board in Africa and improve livelihoods. Continue reading

Evergreen agriculture can Build Resilience and Increase Food Security in the Face of Climate Change

Improving the adoptability of promising agroforestry. A project staff member at the Machakos research center compares a maize plant’s roots with that of Grevillea. They are held at a corresponding point to soil level when planted. Photo by Sahar Nimeh ©IFAD

by Paul Stapleton, World Agroforestry Centre

How do we raise awareness of the potential for evergreen agriculture (EA) as an approach to improve livelihoods, adaptation and mitigation in the tropics, and its successful expansion in Africa? This was the theme of a learning event organized by the World Agroforestry Centre, IFAD, UNEP and the African Development Bank, at the Agriculture and Rural Development Day held in Durban in association with COP17 of the UNFCCC. Continue reading

Agriculture Raises Its Voice in UN Climate Change Negotiations

by Nathan Russell, CIAT

South Africa’s minister of agriculture, Tina Joemat-Petersson, knows a thing or two about negotiating tough issues. So, she had these words of advice for more than 500 representatives of leading agricultural institutions, as they gathered at Durban today to call for action on agriculture in the UN-sponsored climate change deliberations:  Focus on a common message, bury your divisions, and stand together.

“The negotiators are like God, she added in booming cadences, “quick to listen, but slow to answer.” So, make it easy for them to decide in your favor. “Start by putting a bottle of whiskey on the table” – i.e., give them a suitable enticement to cut a deal. Continue reading

Lessons on Best Practices for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Yesterday, more than 500 people joined together in Durban to share practical experience on how to make agriculture climate-smart. Here is a synthesis of best practices, as presented by James Nyoro, of the Rockefeller Foundation

Lessons on best practice for climate smart agriculture from Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011

Summaries from the learning events and presentations from each session will be shared via this blog and website, so please stay tuned!



Press release: a Joint Appeal to COP17 Climate Negotiators

We call on COP17 climate negotiators to take concrete action to include agriculture in the text of the climate agreement. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)

Leading Agricultural Organisations Issue Joint Appeal to COP17 Climate Negotiators at All-Day Event in Durban

Announcement highlights the need for long-term investment and support for improved food security, farmer resilience and climate mitigation efforts in agriculture

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: A group of 16 of the world’s leading agricultural organisations (including three United Nations agencies, the World Bank, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), FANRPAN, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and the World Farmers’ Organisation) has jointly endorsed a letter calling on COP17 climate negotiators to take concrete action to include agriculture in the text of the climate agreement.

The full text of the letter and list of endorsers can be viewed here.

Together, these organizations are hosting an all-day event called Agriculture and Rural Development Day in parallel with the COP17 negotiations in Durban. At the event, more than 500 agricultural experts – including policymakers and negotiators, journalists, farmers, and scientists – are discussing priorities to boost agricultural production while supporting mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Continue reading