Farmers’ battle to cope with climate change could spark rural renewal

Shifting world agriculture to a “climate-smart” approach will not only help prevent future food security crises but holds the promise of sparking economic and agricultural renewal in rural areas where hunger and poverty are most prevalent, argues a new FAO publication.

On the one hand, the magnitude and scope of climate change’s impacts on agricultural systems means that boosting rural communities’ resilience and adaptive capacities is essential to safeguarding world food security.

Rising temperatures and an increased frequency of extreme weather events will have direct and negative impacts on crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture productivity in the years to come, as clearly indicated in the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Vulnerable, farming-dependent populations in the developing world are particularly at risk.

But at the same time, the compelling need to deal with the challenges posed by climate change offers an opportunity to transform the way food systems use natural resources, improve agriculture’s sustainability and promote poverty reduction and economic growth, the publication adds.

Highlighting cases studies in “climate-smart agriculture” from around the globe, FAO’s document shows that many rural communities are already successfully making the transition to new forms of farming better suited to the rigors of a warmer world.

“A shift to climate-smart agriculture will not only help shield farmers from the adverse effects of climate change and offer a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but can also improve farm yields and household incomes, leading to stronger, more resilient communities,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Helena Semedo.

“We can no longer afford to separate the future of food security from that of natural resources, the environment and climate change – they are inextricably intertwined and our response must be as well,” she added.

Climate-smart agriculture

The model of climate-smart agriculture that FAO is promoting seeks to address three broad objectives:
• Sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes
• Help rural communities and farmers adapt to and become more resilient to the effects of climate change
• To reduce or remove agriculture’s greenhouse gases emissions, when possible.
Exactly how farmers go about tackling these goals can change from place to place, depending on local circumstances.

Source: FAO

Climate change adaptation can help to promote Sub-Saharan African Livelihoods.

Investing in ways to adapt to climate change will promote the livelihood of 65 per cent of Africans, the United Nations environmental agency reported, warning also that failing to address the phenomenon could reverse decades of development progress on the continent.

Africa’s population is set to double to 2 billion by 2050, the majority of whom will continue to depend on agriculture to make a living, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“With 94 per cent of agriculture dependent on rainfall, the future impacts of climate change – including increased droughts, flooding, and seal-level rise – may reduce crop yields in some parts of Africa by 15 – 20 per cent,” UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said.

“Such a scenario, if unaddressed, could have grave implications for Africa’s most vulnerable states,” he added.

In a new graphical report, Keeping Track of Adaptation Actions in Africa (KTAA) – Targeted Fiscal Stimulus Actions Making a Difference, UNEP details the implications of climate change, and provides examples of adaptation projects that range from forest ecosystem management to aquatics and agriculture.

The report describes sustainable examples of how countries in sub-Saharan Africa enhanced environmental and ecosystem resilience through the use of native plants and natural infrastructure, land plans and rainwater harvesting, among other examples.

The projects are integrated into national development policies which can strengthen and enhance the resilience communities against the impacts of climate change, while also contributing to the realization of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the report authors.

“By integrating climate change adaptation strategies in national development policies Governments can provide transitional pathways to green growth and protect and improve the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of Africans,” Mr. Steiner noted.
The projects also highlight the urgency to act now in adapting to challenges, especially in developing countries where capabilities to respond to the magnitude of the problem are limited.

This year’s Africa Environment Day, marked annually on 3 March, focused on combating desertification on the continent and enhancing its agriculture and food security. The continent has lost 65 per cent of its agricultural land since 1950 due to land degradation, according to figures cited by UNEP. Up to 12 per cent of its agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) is lost due to deteriorating conditions and 135 million people are at risk of having to move from their land by 2020 due to desertification.

Source; UN Report, August 2014.

How Africa can feed in the face of climate change the solution lies itself

Climate smart agriculture is one of the way Africa can cope with climate change problems. Engaging in this technology helping farmers to cultivate in small area and get enough crops for their families and for selling so as poverty can be reduced.

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climate change and food insecurity

Climate-Smart Agriculture(CSA) is a triple win.

 The World Bank believes climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is a “triple win” for agriculture, the climate and food security

  • Climate-smart farming techniques would increase farm productivity and incomes, and make agriculture more resilient to climate change, while also contributing to mitigation. CSA includes proven practical techniques, such as mulching, intercropping, conservation agriculture, crop rotation, integrated crop-livestock management, agro-forestry, improved grazing, and improved water management.  CSA also includes innovative practices such as better weather forecasting, drought- and flood-tolerant crops and risk insurance.
  • Leading scientists from 38 countries agree.  At a November conference in the Netherlands, experts were united in calling on the negotiators in Durban to recognize and support the potential that climate-smart agriculture offers.

 We are putting CSA into practice

  • Innovative approaches supported by the World Bank (pdf) are already in place in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger and Rwanda, as well as in Yemen, China, Brazil and Mexico.  Below are some examples:
  • African farmers who have adopted evergreen agriculture are reaping impressive results without the use of costly fertilizers. Crop yields often increase by 30 percent and sometimes more. In Zambia, for example, maize yields tripled when grown under Faidherbia trees.
  • In China, a major reforestation program to protect watersheds and control erosion has returned the devastated Loess Plateau to sustainable agricultural production, improving the lives of 2.5 million people and securing food supplies in an area where food was sometimes scarce.  An estimated 20 million more people in China have benefited from the replication of this approach in other areas.
  • In Rwanda, a hillside erosion project is having dramatic results.  Through terracing, improved soil cultivation, better water run-off management, and irrigation systems, farmers reported an immediate increase in yields and income.

Source:

Word Bank.