by Vanessa Meadu
We recently returned from Dublin, Ireland, where smallholder farmers and global thought leaders joined to share experiences, innovations, and ways forward for Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice.
Here is a round-up of our reports back plus a selection of media stories featuring CGIAR work.
Connecting local with global
What happens when some of the world's thought leaders in hunger, nutrition and climate justice meet with innovators working at the frontlines of climate change in developing countries? These pairings helped bring lofty theories down to earth, infusing discussions on rights, risk, knowledge and empowerment with touching and inspiring examples from around the world. Read more…
Small farmers hold the key to tackling climate change wrote Frank Rijsberman, CEO of CGIAR, in an opinion piece for Reuters AlertNet. During his panel remarks (alongside Mary Robinson and Al Gore), Rijsberman acknowledged the importance of building on farmers’ knowledge when developing scientific solutions to climate change.
In a passionate speech, Al Gore pinpointed climate risks for farmers. Ireland’s President Michael Higgins emphasized unequal and inadequate access to food is one of the greatest failures of the global system. Rachel Kyte of the World Bank and CGIAR Fund Council emphasized the need to focus on building climate resilience for farmers, in the context of the millennium development goals.
Watch Frank Rijsberman, Mary Robinson, Al Gore and President Michael Higgins, and others live from the conference Read more »
by Sonja Vermeulen
Can agriculture contribute its share of emissions reductions without huge losses to the food security of poor people? A step closer to a useful answer comes in Global climate policy impacts on livestock, land use, livelihoods, and food security, by Alla Golub, Benjamin Henderson, Thomas Hertel, Pierre Gerber, Steven Rose and Brent Sohngen. Their approach provides an intriguing opportunity to investigate the interplay between climate change policies in forestry and those in agriculture.
The article investigates the possible outcomes of global policies for land-based mitigation. Specifically, the authors test how international policies to incentivize forest carbon sequestration and to tax emissions might, separately or together, affect emissions and household food security. Policies are modeled as payments to forest producers and taxes on emitters in all sectors, both at a rate of US$ 27 per tonne of CO2-equivalent – which is about triple the current price listed by the European Energy Exchange, but not unrealistic. Read more »
By Bruce Campbell
Farmers have been at the forefront of changes and “shocks” since time immemorial, so are well placed to counter climate change. However, “coping” is insufficient if food security is to be achieved. Farmers need to know what kind of season is coming, and thus what and when to plant. They need to know about the outbreak of new pests and diseases. On the longer term, they need to know whether a shift in crop species or different farming strategies are needed. A cornerstone of active adaptation is information availability: varieties to grow, diversification options, seasonal climate forecasts, flood and cyclone warnings, pest and disease outbreaks, market options.
By An Notenbaert and Stanley Karanja Ng'ang'a
At a household level, a number of factors influence the nature and degree of people’s vulnerability to the climate change. A new study by CCAFS amongst agro-pastoralist households in Mozambique has analyzed a variety of indicators normally used in vulnerability assessments to measure the influence of these vulnerability variables on coping capacity within a changing climate. The study gives us more certainty about the influence that some of these variables have on coping capacity. For instance, income diversification, increasing access to infrastructure and saving, seemed to promote adaptation and are also widely applicable.
By Clare Pedrick
Climate smart technologies can raise agricultural productivity, reduce rural communities’ vulnerability to weather extremes and cushion people from the impacts of food price volatility. The approach holds out special hope for dry lands, according to experts meeting in Doha, Qatar, to discuss the future of agriculture and food security in these countries.
Changing climate patterns will affect people farming in all ecosystems. But those living in dry areas will face more acute challenges. Countries already suffering from high poverty levels due to poor land and water availability are being hard hit by climate change, with erratic rainfall, more frequent droughts, extreme temperatures, shifting climatic zones and the arrival of new crop pests and diseases.
“We now face the additional challenge of climate change,” said Prof. Thomas Rosswall, chairman of the Independent Science Panel for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). “The increased variation in rainfall and decrease in the total amount will dramatically affect production in the dry lands.”
Approaches to help buffer the effects of climate change on farmers range from simple solutions to high-tech options. Read more »
By Clare Pedrick
With less than two weeks to go before the 18th session of the UN Conference of Parties for the Convention on Climate Change (COP), there have been calls for more focus on agriculture in the negotiations. A detailed treatment of agriculture has yet to enter any of the agreements linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is cause for concern, especially in the world's dry lands which are already vulnerable to drought and temperature rises. Read more »
by Catherine Mungai and Wilson Ugangu
Farmers are increasingly demanding access to climate information from agricultural- and climate change experts to improve their farming practices. They also desire to learn more, and be part of, an evolving dialogue on how local communities, governmental organizations and research institutions can work together to increase farm productivity and reduce the impacts of climate variability.
These were the findings from a radio project piloted by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) East Africa, in partnership with a local radio station in Eastern Kenya — Mbaitu FM. The 30 minute radio show “Wasya wa Muimi” (the voice of the farmer) was presented in local Kamba language every Friday evening from January to April, 2012, near and around the CCAFS site at Wote. Read more »
Bit by bit, East African smallholder farmers are adapting to climate change, according to a study we recently published in the journal Food Security. The story received significant attention from a number of global and African media outlets, highlighting both the positive aspects (farmers are adapting) and pointing to the ongoing challenges (they are not adapting quickly enough and not using well-tested approaches). Here are some of the highlights.
Reuters said that African farmers must do more to beat climate change, a story that was picked by worldwide media including the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Reuters AlertNet, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and Scientific American.
Voice of America wrote how East African Farmers Plant Seeds of Innovation. In an interview, Patti Kristjanson, who led the research, described how East African farmers are aware of the extremes of climate change, but the driving factor behind their innovations is to ensure there’s enough to eat.
The New York Times featured the study in its Dot Earth blog. Andrew Revkin wrote that that the study’s conclusions show “there’s enormous potential to boost human resilience to climate extremes — whether the result of building greenhouse gases or nature’s built-in shocks — in places that are in harm’s way.” Read more »
Farmers worldwide have always faced challenges related to weather variability, and have necessarily adapted their farming practises in order to survive. But as variability increases to to climate change, and rainfall patterns and average temperatures shift dramatically, farmers may need to change more rapidly and in unexpected ways.
The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) led an extensive survey of farmers at sites across East Africa, to discover what kind of changes farmers have already made to deal with variability. The goal was to understand what kind of changes are possible in the future, and what compels farmers to make these changes, in order to deal with climate change.
The results of the survey, which were published in the journal Food Security, found that many smallholders have started to embrace climate-resilient farming approaches and technologies. These include strategies that improve crop production such as using improved seed varieties, agroforestry and intercropping, and better livestock management. But many farming approaches, the kind that would actually transform the way smallholders farm, have yet to be adopted. The infographic below illustrates what has, and has not, been commonly adopted. Read more »
by Philip Thornton
Climate change is already having impacts on food systems in the tropics, and in the coming decades it will alter the regional distribution of hungry people. A new working paper from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) distils what is known about the likely impacts of climate change on the commodities and natural resources that make up the mandate of the CGIAR and its 15 Centres. The study, “Impacts of climate change on the agricultural and aquatic systems and natural resources within the CGIAR’s mandate”, contains summaries for 22 mandate commodities and for agroforestry, forests, and water. These summaries, written by scientists at each CGIAR centre, outline the importance of each commodity for food and nutrition security, its biological vulnerability to climate change, and the likely socio-economic vulnerability of the people affected. 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)