No Agriculture, No Deal

This article by Busani Bufana appeared on IPS Africa. Read it here or below. 

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 1 (IPS) – Zambian dairy farmer, Effatah Jele, does not believe in farming luck but in pragmatism because of climate change.

“Farmers should be taught about good farming practises instead of blaming everything on climate change,” said Jele, who runs a dairy farm in the Luanshya Cooperbelt Province of Zambia and is the vice chairperson of the Dairy Association.

“Changes are there, no doubt, but it is also important for farmers to have the right farming practises for them to survive those changes. For example, some women are growing vegetables and, due to ignorance, dig the soil right up to edge of the river. Then, when it rains, the soil is all washed into the stream and after a few years the stream becomes shallow. And some say this is because of climate change.”

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Tackling Hunger and Climate Change: From Farm to Fork

This blog post by Julian Aran appeared on the Greenpeace International blog on December 2, 2011. Read it here or below.

On the third annual Agriculture and Rural Development Day taking place in Durban, South Africa on December 3rd, governments will be grappling with an apparently unsolvable conundrum; how to feed a world that recently crossed the seven billion population mark, while reducing the contribution of agriculture to global climate change? 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.

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.

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Smallholder Farmers can Address Climate Change Through Triple-Win Strategies

Farmer workshop in climate information, Kaffrine, Senegal. Governments are being called on to build capacity at all levels. Photo: P. Casier (CCAFS)

This article, published on the New Agriculturist, is one in a series of case studies published in the lead-up to Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011. Read it here or below.

By expanding underexploited agricultural strategies, smallscale farmers can mitigate climate change, increase their resilience to climate change impacts and boost their profits from agricultural production, new research has revealed. Using crop and livestock model simulations and household survey data across Kenya’s diverse climate zones, researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) and the University of Georgia identified a number of these ‘triple-win’ strategies.

“We discovered that there is a set of highly beneficial practices that farmers could use to build their resilience against climate change and bolster their livelihoods,” says IFPRI senior researcher Claudia Ringler. The combined application of inorganic fertiliser, mulch, and manure – which simultaneously enhances crop yields, increases soil carbon stocks, and boosts profits – was identified as one of the most effective triple-win strategies. The use of higher quality feeds for livestock, which boosts profits and decreases methane emissions, was another important strategy.

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Climate Conversations – Swazi Farmer Brings ‘Happy’ Ending to Food Security Woes

Happy Lungile Shongwe drives her tractor in Swaziland's Lubombo district. Photo: FANRPAN

This blog post by Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, the chief cxecutive of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).appeared on the Reuter’s Alternet blog Climate Conversations. Reuters Alertnert is a Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2011 media partner. Read the article here or below.

Climate change is a reality in Africa and it is felt by the most vulnerable people. For Happy Lungile Shongwe, a mother of two from Maphumulo in the Lubombo district of Swaziland, however, the story has a happy ending, unlike for most who are battling to cope with climate shocks.

Shongwe is a smallholder farmer who produces seeds. When Swaziland was hard hit by drought in 2002, Shongwe was amongst the smallholder farmers who felt the shock as their fields were destroyed. Food reserves ran dry and she was among the people who were left destitute.

But the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations came to the rescue of these communities, not only by providing food vouchers but also arming them with information on how best they can respond to the drought.

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The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy

The Farming First coalition has launched an animated video called “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy”, which highlights how agriculture can help build a global green economy, including increased food production, more efficient water use, improved livelihoods and increased resources to benefit women and smallholder farmers.

A transition to a green economy is fundamental for addressing sustainable development. With a predicted 9 billion people by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by 70 per cent to meet new demands for food, feed, fuel and fibre. Agriculture can play a key role in helping to achieve the triple goals of a secure food supply, poverty reduction through improved rural livelihoods, and environmental sustainability through reduced carbon footprint of production and climate change adaptation.

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New Agriculturist Highlights Climate-Smart Agriculture

Amid expectations that negotiators will highlight agriculture in Durban, the word “climate-smart agriculture” has become a buzzword, complete with its own acronym. But, what, exactly, does CSA mean?  The New Agriculturist gets to the bottom of the buzzword in a new online feature. They ask leading experts, including members of the Agricultural and Rural Development Day 2011 team, to specify the dimensions–and importance–of CSA. Read the article online here to understand why Ag Day 2011 is devoted to this crucial topic.  Read the highlights below. Continue reading