By Bruce Campbell
A wise man once said, a hungry man is an angry man. The same goes for the farmer who cannot feed herself.
If African countries don’t want to see this proverb become reality, they must honour their commitments to invest more in the future of agriculture - to make farms more productive and sustainable, and protect farmers from the risks of climate change and extreme weather.
Farming is the life blood of more than half a billion people on the African continent, and climate change will have significant impacts on African agriculture. Rising temperatures and an increase in droughts and floods could dramatically alter growing seasons and wreak havoc on harvests.
The rate of crop failure - already one-in-four in much of eastern Africa - will increase in all areas except Central Africa, according to research by the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR). Because of climate change, rain-fed crops could fail every other year in much of southern Africa.
In the past, African farmers have shown a remarkable capacity to adapt to changes in climate. But the temperature increases of four degrees or more predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could push millions of farmers beyond their ability to adapt. And it is unlikely that negotiations at the global climate talks opening in Durban on Nov. 28 will produce an agreement to limit global warming to two degrees or lower.
As such, Africans must realise that we cannot expect the world to create a climate solution for us. We must embark on our own path towards climate security. And that starts with ensuring our own food security. Read more »
On 16 November, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change released its recommendations on transforming the food system in the face of climate change. The story was picked up worldwide, in countries including Brazil, Canada, France, Poland, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, USA, and Australia.
In addition, the story generated interesting articles in a number of high profile outlets, including a number of interviews with Commissioners
Guardian Global Development interviewed Sir John Beddington, and noted that Agriculture needs massive investment to avoid hunger, while Nature News highlighted that the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Durban must Clean up farming. NewScientist asked Just how much meat can eco-citizens eat? as climate threats loom, which prompted the International Livestock Research Institute to publish a piece on Credible figures for livestock emissions of greenhouse gases. SciDev.net spoke to Kenyan Commissioner Judi Wakhungu about the 'conflict' in agricultural research between trying to reduce GHG emissions vs. intensifying agriculture. French Commissioner Marion Guillou blogged about the Commission's recommendations and challenged policy makers to take them up (en francais). In Australia The Age spoke to Dr. Megan Clark about putting food security on the menu, and The Earth Times called for policy makers to 'act now'.
Next week, Commission chair Sir John Beddington will share the recommendations with key decision leaders and over 500 participants at Agriculture and Rural Development Day in Durban. If you can't join in person, be sure to follow the Agriculture Day blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Guest post by Manyewu Mutamba
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. Read more »
Last week, The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change released its recommendations to help the world achieve food security in the face of climate change.
The current issue of New Scientist publishes an article describing a recently released study, ‘Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change’, which was commissioned by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research). For more on that study, see the CCAFS news release of 16 November 2011: ‘Global Commission Charts Pathway for Achieving Food Security in Face of Climate Change‘.
Sujata Gupta’s New Scientist article on meat consumption, ‘Just how much meat can eco-citizens eat?’ (online publication date: 16 November 2011; print issue date: 19 November 2011; print issue number: 2839), contains what we believe is a factual error. Gupta quotes a 2007 article in the Lancet (‘Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health’, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61256-2) that 80% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions come from meat production.
More credible figures, compiled from international global assessments by agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero and his colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute, are the following: Read more »
Guest post by Chase Sova (CIAT).
When we think of climate change adaptation in agriculture the first thing that comes to mind is improved crop varieties. Water harvesting and irrigation schemes may also be high on our list. Perhaps too is crop diversification. But on a recent trip to western Kenya, one agricultural community reminded us that sometimes the interventions that can most improve the adaptive capacities of small-scale farmers may not occur on or even near the farm.
Othidhe is a small agricultural community in Kenya’s Nyando Basin (click for map) set against the backdrop of the eastern branch of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. A settlement community, Othidhe was founded shortly after Kenya’s independence in 1963 and is the product of a targeted land reform program. The settlers in Othidhe received ten hectares of land from the government with the explicit purpose of developing the region in to a sugarcane production zone. Today, vast fields of sugarcane dominate the treeless landscape (clear-cut over several decades to expand cane production) disturbed only by the smoky stacks of the Muhoroni Sugar Factory. Read more »
This post was first published on the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) blog by Neil Palmer.
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 this, a traditional two-storey house made from wood, mud and stone.
Now he lives here – literally the next house 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. Read more »
Australia, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, France, UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil – what do these countries have in common?
Quite a lot, according to their 13 Commissioners who today release the summary report Achieving food security in the face of climate change. The Commissioners, all high-level scientists who are well linked to policy processes, have spent the past nine months reviewing the evidence on what actions have the best chance of creating the agriculture and food supplies we need in the coming years of rapidly changing climates, demographics and dietary preferences. Read more »
Guest Blog by: Chase Sova, visiting researcher on 'Adaptive Capacity under Progressive Climate Change', CCAFS
A few weeks ago the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and CCAFS published a blogpost on Maurice Kwadha (affectionately known as “Maurice the Madman”), an innovative small-scale farmer in Kenya’s Nyando Basin. The post was entitled “Kenya: A glimpse of climate-smart agriculture” quickly went viral and was picked up by Reuters Alertnet. As we get closer to Durban, we thought this to be the ideal time to share more on Maurice and the organizations in the Nyando Basin that have helped to make him and others so successful.
Sub-Saharan Africa more vulnerable than other continents to climate change
Sub-saharan Africa is recognized as highly vulnerable to climate change impacts due to its high levels of poverty and relatively low adaptive capacity. East Africa in particular, where you’ll find Maurice’s farm, is identified as a hotspot for change. He and his neighbors in the Nyando Basin in Western Kenya are already beginning to see the impacts of unpredictable rainfall and increased drought and flood intensity. The task of planning yearly activities has grown increasingly difficult, often resulting in significant crop losses. The consequences on food security are predictably devastating. But Maurice’s story is not one of hunger and despair. Quite the contrary, it’s one of hope. In a region with no shortage of environmental challenges people like Maurice are not only competing with climate change, they’re flat-out beating it. Read more »
Guest blog by Michael Victor, CGIAR Challenge Program for Water and Food, Communication Coordinator
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to some Lao colleagues about the CGIAR Challenge Program for Water and Food’s Learning Event on Rainwater management at ARDD and the concept of climate smart agriculture. While the term is difficult to translate, the definition is quite simple. Essentially, it means tackling climate-change while producing more food for a growing population.
But what does this mean in practice? Is it the ‘best and brightest’ of technologies, the magic bullet that will triple production and solve all our problems? Or is it the recommended technology suite that can be implemented everywhere? Wasn't this more of the same technologies and approaches we have been promoting for years? Read more »
With the UN Climate Conference in Durban just around the corner, the idea that agriculture plays an enormous role in climate change adaptation and mitigation is gaining momentum. Next week, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change will publish its recommendations for policy makers on what changes and actions are needed to help the world achieve food security in the face of climate change. Commission coordinator Christine Negra recently spoke on camera about changing the game for the food system in the face of climate change”.
In the light of this, different media channels are also focusing their attention on agriculture. Alertnet recently asked “Is there enough food for a world of 7 billion?” reviewing food security in a world with increasing population and weather related disasters. In the article, CGIAR Climate Director Bruce Campbell discusses how to improve farmer’s yields while at the same time adapting to climate change. 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)