Agriculture and Rural Development Day was a resounding success, with over 500 people participants and an excellent set of plenary presentations, small group “learning events,” and a fun engagement with the South African Minister of Agriculture. For me the highlights were threefold:
- A presentation of the summary of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change by Sir John Beddington. The Commission Report includes summary analysis and a set of clearly articulated and workable recommendations.
- Showcasing of many examples of innovative agricultural development initiatives in the learning events
- Coalescing of a common approach and simple message about the links between agriculture and climate change that may be simple enough to get the attention of the negotiators.
Innovative agricultural development initiatives included:
- A startup private seed company in Kenya that can’t meet farmers’ demand for seeds for drought-tolerant varieties;
- A regional agricultural development approach in Malawi that relies on a large commercial farm that provides training, development, contracts and inputs for local farmer groups;
- Weather-indexed insurance in West Africa;
- A carbon farming project in Kenya that is increasing productivity and resilience, while generating carbon credits;
- A productive safety net project in Ethiopia that reaches over a million farmers;
- An insurance for work program in Ethiopia, …. to name a few.
The South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has assumed de facto political leadership of the Climate Smart Agriculture initiative. She has done this in a few ways, including convening a meeting of African Ministers of Agriculture, participating very actively in Agriculture and Rural Development Day, and advocating strongly for agriculture in the COP. The goal for this COP: a resolution by the Ad Hoc Working Group on LongTerm Collaborative Action for the establishment of a Work Program on Agriculture under the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA). I certainly hope that Canada supports this.
Brent Swallow is an Environment and Development Economist and Chair of the Department Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta, Canada. This story was originally posted on his blog.