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.

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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

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.

Continue reading