by Vanessa Meadu
Imagine you're working for your country's government and you've been given the formidable task of developing a strategy to help the agriculture sector adapt to climate change. Working out how climate models will play out on the ground for farmers, and conceiving options for farmers to adapt is sophisticated stuff, and the challenge is only compounded when the best information remains somewhat uncertain.
You might easily be discouraged, when faced with data and projections that are not sufficiently specific, only applicable for certain crops, or simply missing altogether. Often this uncertainty becomes a political weapon, wielded as an excuse for inaction. But a new analysis published in the journal PNAS debunks such excuses by showing how scientists and governments can cut through uncertainty and make the most of existing knowledge, however conflicting or weak. Read more »
by Vivian Atakos, John Recha and Philip Kimeli
Kambi ya Mawe, a village in Wote eastern Kenya, was recently a beehive of activity when hundreds of people attended the first smallholder farmers’ field day organized by the local Ministry of Agriculture personnel in late January.
Researchers and extension agents explained to farmers the need for selecting suitable crop varieties that could help them achieve food security under a changing climate. In addition, farmers, together with the researchers and agents, as well as government officials and development practitioners, moved around on the farms, assessing how well the prepared trials of sorghum, maize, cowpea, greengram and bean intercrops had performed for the farmers. Read more »
By Eleanor Milne
At last year’s Forest Day, it seemed that there was one word on everybody’s lips: ‘landscapes’. We heard it in conversations, in presentations, even the event itself was held under the theme of ‘Living Landscapes’, representing a new collaboration between Forest Day and Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day. A collaboration which explores the relation between forests, farming and people; which recognizes that every landscape is a patch-work of different land covers; and that these land covers interact with and impact on each other. It is an idea which understands that if we are to simultaneously address climate change, save forests and feed people, a landscape approach at a landscape-scale is needed.
However, conducting landscape-scale measurements and modeling has proved particularly difficult in developing countries. Read more »
by Alexa Jay and Amor Ines
Crop yield predictions made during the growing season are relevant to many agricultural and food security decisions, including food safety net and relief programs, agricultural insurance, and management of agricultural inputs and credit supplies. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) Theme 2: Adaptation Through Managing Climate Risk supports advances in crop forecasting in service of its goal to enhance the resilience of rural livelihoods and food systems to climate-related risk.
A joint CCAFS Theme 2 project between the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University (IRI) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is investigating the use of satellite data to improve the accuracy of crop yield forecasting. Promising results in homogenous, large-scale farming environments indicate that incorporation of remotely sensed information on vegetation cover and soil moisture into crop models can reduce errors in yield predictions. Read more »
By Alejandra Martins, BBC Mundo, 24 October 2012
When researchers from totally different continents met this year in Uruguay, they were looking to resolve one of the future’s great challenges: How to feed a growing world population that will reach 9 billion people in 2050.
The South American country has achieved rice yields comparable with what would be expected of the most fertile zones of the United States, thanks to a model that could contain vital lessons for other nations. The advance is one of those high-impact innovations that will be discussed at next week’s international summit, the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD).
“We estimate that in 2035 it will be necessary to produce 116 million tons more of polished or dry rice every year to satisfy global demand,” said Achim Dobermann, the director of the International Rice Institute in the Philippines, to BBC Mundo. The current global production of dry rice (the kind that reaches the consumer) is close to 480 million tons. Dobermann is one of the experts who recently visited plantations of rice in Uruguay, together with representatives from Africa, Asia and other regions. “The advances in this country can offer lessons that could be adapted for other countries. We are looking at Uruguay in that context,” said Dobermann. How has Uruguay achieved its high yields? And to what extent can this strategy serve for other nations as well?
by Ronnie Vernooy
Upstream and downstream, the operations of CGIAR centers face a range of policy challenges related to genetic resources. Upstream, a new research focus on developing technologies that can be taken forward by private companies requires striking a balance between providing incentives for private-sector engagement and maintaining maximum public availability for the goods that the centers develop. Downstream, greater involvement with formal and informal seed systems at the national level, to produce and distribute quality seed, depends on national level policies (and their absence) that can determine the success of these activities.
In our survey for the report Flows under stress: Availability of plant genetic resources in times of climate and policy change, we found that centers generally did not face significant challenges in getting access to proprietary technology from companies and research institutions. Instead, most difficulties arose where the centers provide technologies to private sector companies. Read more »
by Ronnie Vernooy
Genebanks appear to be at a crossroads. Thanks to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the scene has been set for an unprecedented level of global co-operation for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. In practice, however, the situation is largely static and many actors are unwilling to assume more proactive roles.
The survey on genebank managers, Availability of plant genetic resources in times of climate and policy change, revealed that a number of priorities have been identified that linked to recent climate change. Most notably, there is increasing interest in collecting and characterizing the wild relatives of some crops, in the hope of finding useful traits of particular interest, such as tolerance to extreme heat or cold. Despite their desire to collect and characterize wild relatives, CGIAR genebank managers also report that it is becoming more difficult for most of them to access new germplasm, with the exception of materials from well-established genebanks in Europe and North America. Read more »
by Ronnie Vernooy
Bioversity International recently undertook an in-depth study of Availability of plant genetic resources in times of climate and policy change for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). This blog post is a summary of the publication.
Plant breeders within the CGIAR emphasize that they have been responding to climate-related stresses for a long time, and several are sceptical about donors and research and development organizations suddenly putting so much emphasis on climate change. Nonetheless, most can point to new breeding activities and the use of new technologies directly linked to factors such as increased drought, more extreme temperatures, more widespread flooding, higher levels of salinity and shifting patterns of pest and disease occurrence, all of which are associated with climate change. Read more »
by Stefano Padulosi
The world´s food basket is shrinking and most concerning is the reduction of species and varieties used by humankind in food and nutrition security which raises serious concerns about the sustainability of feeding the world today and in the future. Yet, whereas we deploy consistent efforts in monitoring the status of wild biodiversity, very limited is the research in monitoring diversity of plants used by farmers, assess threats of genetic erosion, understand how diversity is helping farmers in coping with climate change. In the light of this, Stefano Padulosi, Senior Scientist at Bioversity International, set out to present his poster-project, prepared for the World Conservation Congress, held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on farm conservation, traditional crops and climate change. Here he summarizes his experiences during the conference: Read more »
By Colin Khoury
We are happy to announce the launch of the Crop Wild Relatives and Climate Change website. The new site is dedicated to compiling and providing information on the taxonomy, distribution, conservation status and breeding potential of the wild relatives of major crops. Developed under the project “Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Collecting, Protecting, and Preparing Crop Wild Relatives” and building upon its activities, this website is intended to become a lasting data repository. The project is led by the Global Crop Diversity Trust in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, supported by the Government of Norway. It focuses on the wild species in the genepools of 26 crops of major importance to food security that fall under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. 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)