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

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

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

Scaling up rural adaptation strategies

Ninigui Village - Yatenga (Burkina Faso). Pic: Peter Casier.

Initiatives to help rural people adapt to climate change usually start as small pilot projects, allowing project implementers to learn by doing. These projects can generate useful lessons on how pro-poor adaptation strategies can ensure food security and development under climate change. But how can we scale these up, and ensure that more people in more countries benefit from adaptation strategies? This was the central question in Roundtable 3 at Agriculture and Rural Development Day. The session, which was convened by the Earth Systems Science Partnership (ESSP) and the World Food Program (WFP) showcased adaptation strategies garnered from the international development world, the private sector, and from researchers.

RT3-Rodney_Cooke_IFAD The session was facilitated by Rodney Cooke from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who reiterated the key messages of the day: agriculture and land use change must be central to climate change discussion, because together they produce 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions; agriculture also has the potential to store carbon and reduce other greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, billions of people depend directly and indirectly on agriculture, particularly the 500M small farms on the planet, which support 2 billion people, one-third of the world’s population. 80 percent of the food in developing countries is produced by small farms. As population increases to 2050, food production in developing countries will have to double to meet new demand.

RT3-Diana_LivermanDiana Liverman, an expert on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and climate policy and mitigation in the developing world, emphasised the need for the global change community to work closely together with the international development and agricultural research communities, in order to properly assess questions on agriculture, climate change and food security. Dr. Liverman, who is Co-Director at the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment, said the challenge was not only to scale up lessons from adaptation and vulnerability research, but also to scale down large scale projections from climate models, so that this data can be useful for local decision-making. Adaptation must be scaled up in the context of larger scale policy changes, for example at the national level. Decision-makers must climate-proof macro level policies in addition to helping the poor adapt. Climate change makes this worse for rural people who are already vulnerable to many different factors.

“We must make sure that everything we do on climate action and policy are related to the impact, effects and opportunities on the most vulnerable people,” said Robin Mearns from the World Bank. One approach to ensuring that adaptation and mitigation in rural development will work at scale, is to ensure coherence between programs and areas of policy intervention that may not be obviously related. For example in India, a rural livelihoods initiative is exploring potential linkages with a rural employment initiative, in order to provide more options to vulnerable poor, for whom diverse and stable sources of income is an essential component of adaptation.

RT3-Celine_HerweijerThe last speaker, Celine Herweijer from pwc UK, a tax and advisory service company that works in global sustainability, detailed how the role of the private sector in scaling up solutions to adaptation. For example, many larger food and agricultural businesses are incorporating risk management into their daily practices. Companies such as Unilever Tea in Kenya are able to make upfront investments in adaptation strategies and engage with directly with the farmers. The private sector, she said, can help the rural poor overcome their limited purchasing power. However, the private sector can only act in the right policy enabling environment, and so governments must help put rules into place to support further investments and private sector initiatives.

The discussion after the presentations centered around a number of key themes:

  • How to support decision makers when climate models have significant uncertainty
  • Farmers must invest in a diversity of ways to earn their living
  • Scaling up adaptation requires a communication for development approach, and farmers, the private sector and other actors must be brought into the development process from the outset
  • Supportive government policies are essential in helping farmers adapt. In Asia, for example, land tenure is often insecure, and farmers who do not own the land cannot easily decide what to plant and how.
  • Civil society and farmer voices need to be clearly heard and taken into account from the outset

Some of the key messages were incorporated into the Agriculture and Rural Development Day statement called for many more initiatives on climate-smart funding, with emphasis on efforts to help the rural poor adapt to climate change impacts and on the use of climate finance to realize agriculture’s substantial potential for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Agricultural Development, Food Security and Climate Change: Intersecting at a Global Crossroads

Inger Andersen, CGIAR Fund Council Chair

In the opening session of Agriculture and Rural Development Day, Inger Andersen, CGIAR Fund Council Chair and Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank talked about the intersection of agricultural development, food security and climate. Agriculture is part of the problem of climate change and so must be part of solution. The sector produces 17% of greenhouse gases and it will be severely affected by any climate change.At the same time, 70% of the rural poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Ms Andersen proposed a solution that was a triple win of increased food security, resilience and emissions reductions.

First was a win for the environment because agriculture is the most important sector that can effectively capture carbon. Good land and agriculture management practices, such as agroforestry systems, zero tillage and improved water and fertilizer management will all have significant potential for carbon sequestration.  Such climate-smart agricultural techniques can reduce emissions by at least 13%.

The use of agroforestry in Sub-Saharan Africa in what is being termed Evergreen Agriculture is a good example of this approach. Evergreen Agriculture integrates fertilizer trees into annual food crop and livestock systems and maintains a green cover on the land throughout the year. This approach has already provided benefits to several million farmers in Zambia, Malawi, Niger and Burkina Faso.  For example, in Niger, there are now more than 4.8 million ha of millet and sorghum being grown in agro-forests with up to 160 African legume trees per ha.  Farmers in Malawi have increased their maize yields by up to 280 %w hen their crops grow under a canopy of these trees.

Second there is a win for the farmers because increased climate-smart agriculture increases production and productivity. Many of the techniques that sequester carbon also allow for increased production and incomes. Kenya faces increasingly severe and frequent floods and droughts, exacerbated by land degradation.  Agriculture accounts for nearly 60% of greenhouse gas emissions.   The country has introduced an integrated program to improve productivity, value added, food security, and resilience.  This will be achieved through many efforts: early warning systems, flood and drought management, subsidies targeted at those most in need, social protection programs, and most importantly for climate change, soil carbon sequestration targeted at smallholder maize producers who are benefiting from carbon revenues.  This is the first biocarbon project on the African continent.

Third there is a win for global food security because climate-smart agriculture increases resilience of production systems. Agricultural production must increase by 70% to feed 9 billion people by 2050.  The agricultural sector will also need to become much more resilient.  This will require integrated approaches to land, water, and woodland management.  New silvo-pastoral practices in Central and South America have sequestered 1.5 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year, reduced methane emissions by 21% and nitrogen dioxide by 35%, while at the same time, they have almost doubled meat production and increased the carrying capacity of the land in animals per hectare by 50%.  Farmer income tripled in Colombia, and doubled in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Enhanced knowledge and improved technologies will play a key role in making climate smart agriculture a reality.  “Today, together, we are doing the hard work of building consensus on what has to be done to move toward climate smart agriculture and the triple win,” said Ms Andersen.

Written by Paul Stapleton, World Agroforestry Centre

Act now for farmers’ futures

A former coffee farmer who has switched to production of plantain due to the effects of climate change in Colombia. Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

This article by CCAFS director Bruce Campbell was originally posted on The Broker’s blog A new agriculture for food security

As climate change impacts unfold, compounding the many challenges already faced by smallholder farmers, pastoralists and fishers in the developing world, a new challenge emerges for science and policy: finding the right balance between food security, reducing emissions, and ensuring environmental and economic sustainability.

We need better knowledge on these tradeoffs. Priority should be given to identifying sustainable low-carbon options for agricultural development that ensure food security and livelihoods. Synergies between these multiple outcomes are possible – for example, conservation of coastal mangrove forests captures carbon and also buffers against coastal, erosion, storm-surges and the impacts of sea-level rise. Mangroves also enhance fisheries production and support diverse coastal livelihoods. By finding technical and institutional options for mitigation that support livelihoods and food security, we can create benefits for farmers, food systems and the environment.

We also need greater clarity on where investments will have the greatest impact. Current approaches to managing climate risks – such as mobile pastoralism, community food storage facilities, climate information services, and index-based insurance products –provide a strong starting point for helping women and men in small-scale farming and food industries prepare for increasing variability in the weather. Our challenge is to improve people’s access to established and emerging risk-management solutions.

Even a 2 degree rise will destabilize current farming systems, necessitating major changes. Researchers are already finding adaptation approaches at multiple levels, from adjusting a particular agricultural practice such as the time of planting, to changing crop varieties, switching to new crops, or moving out of crop farming altogether. However, these changes can be difficult, and the challenge is how to enable them without further stressing peoples’ livelihoods. Time is of essence: farmers and agencies involved in food systems must stay ahead of the unprecedented changes that will occur in the coming decades. By adopting an approach of ‘accelerated adaptation’, we can help farming and food systems be ready in advance.

New challenges call for new ways of working. Agricultural science, and research on livelihoods, social institutions and food security, must be better integrated with climate science. We also need to bring the knowledge and perspectives of farmers together with decision-makers at other levels. It is crucial that research in agriculture, food security and climate change continues to improve and deliver, to allow more confident decision-making and allocation of limited resources towards uncertain climatic futures.

New scientific commission on climate change and agriculture to inform next steps for policy, farmers

This article originally appeared on the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) blog

Amid last week’s Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change, where ministers, scientists and NGOs produced a roadmap for action, plans were also revealed for a new International Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change.

The Commission, which is set up by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security programme (CCAFS), with additional funding from the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, will identify what policy changes and actions are needed to help the world achieve sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change. Specifically, the Commission will focus on bringing together existing evidence on sustainable agriculture that contributes to food security and poverty reduction, and helps respond to climate change adaptation and mitigation goals. Continue reading