"I find the coverage of weather troubling. Few of these stories have been told as 'food stories,' yet the implications for food availability, pricing, and security are significant and widespread. The fires in Russia have been reported as likely to affect the wheat commodity market—making this, in other words, a 'business story,' even though tightening wheat supplies will affect millions of eaters around the world. And there's been little coverage outside California about our coldest summer on record."
from: "Still No Tomatoes: Is Global Warming to Blame?" The Atlantic, 14 september 2010
There is no way around it: international trade policy is always messy. Recently, each round of WTO has drawn angry mobs and protests--and, more often than not, very little change. The pattern, it seems, especially holds true for discussions about food subsidies: developing countries want the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Europe to remove the subsidies and genuinely open up their markets to developing country stocks, and the U.S. and Europe refuse to do so. And the stalemate replicates each WTO round, seemingly ad infinitum.
But the food crises of 2007-2008 and 2010 are demonstrating, more than ever, the dangers of nationalist, isolationist (and ultimately myopic) food policies.
Let's rewind. What happened during these food crises, who was responsible, and what made the 2007-2008 crisis so much worse than this one? Read more »
Beginning in October, CCAFS partner Bioversity International will give farmers in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) access to different seeds and allow them to freely experiment. The researchers will then track the results and facilitate inter-farmer exchanges of information and experiences, creating a new network of agricultural knowledge.
The Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) region, formed by the fluvial action of the Indus and Ganges River systems, is one of the world’s most important food grain producing regions. Its 13.5 million hectares of farmland account for over 30% of the rice and 42% of the wheat grown in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal; 15% of global wheat production; and, most impressively, 21% of the food stock worldwide. The region also supports some of the most densely populated areas on earth, with more than 300 million people dependent on the predominant rice-wheat cropping system.
Hence, IGP is a socially significant and economically strategic domain of India; however it is also environmentally sensitive, and its landscape, hydrology and fertility are increasingly being threatened by climate warming and anthropogenic pressure. Future climate scenarios suggest that, by 2050, as much as 51% of the IGP region might be reclassified as a heat-stressed, irrigated, short-season production mega-environment. Read more »
Recent news in Pakistan demonstrates the strong need for better water management in the future, as well as crops better bred to withstand not just heat and drought, but also floods. As climate change leads to more precipitation variability--and, in many areas, seasons of intense rain--farmers need infrastructure to capture and store rainwater; methods to distribute water to drier areas; strategies to better keep fertile soil in place; and flood-resistant seeds/crops. Read more »
A new CCAFS strategy for Progressive Adaptation involves use of IIED power tools to map circles of political influence in different countries. The visual exercise aims to improve understanding of how to best lobby for for enabling policies for climate change adaptation.
One of the greatest challenges for the climate change adaptation community is to ensure that technology and research are funneled down to the field and transformed into real-world change. It is a bridge that is difficult to build, and even today, after many crop breeding advancements, substantial yield gaps exist. In part, this is due to the "climate conundrum," in which weather variability and systemic poverty are self-reinforcing: Poor farmers are often risk-averse, often choosing not to invest in new technologies and opting for less risky but also less profitable crops. Meanwhile, climate risk also limits farmers' access to credit, since lenders fear loan defaults. Thus even weather shocks occurring once in every 5-6 years can limit potential growth in all years.
To address these issues, farmers must be given enough of a security net to make those risks worthwhile. In other words, technology and know-how are not enough; enabling policies must also exist.
But as a non-profit or a research institute, how do you influence policy? How do you know who holds the power?
This week's Economist features an article on Brazilian biofuels production that demonstrates perfectly the potential synergies between mitigation and adaptation, as well as the crucial role policy plays in exploiting those synergies.
Some excerpts follow:
"The industry is struggling to turn all these economic and environmental benefits into reliable revenues. For that it largely blames the government and is duly arguing for a more favourable regulatory regime. But it should watch out. The government, in turn, accuses the industry of wanting to have the best of both the agricultural and energy worlds. It could yet make the industry’s life harder.... Read more »
An analogues project launched in August 2010 will map climactic and agricultural analogues in an effort to share coping and adaptation strategies, as climate effectively migrates.
According to scientific projections, climate change will progressively affect regions around the world, with significant implications for agricultural enterprises. Farmers, ranchers, and fishers have long adapted to annual climate variability and passed on that knowledge from generation to generation. However, the scope of anthropogenic global warming may change the conditions in a certain area more quickly and more drastically than traditional adaptation methods can handle. Centuries-old coping mechanisms may be insufficient, even obsolete--but only for that area. Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)