Tackling climate change requires a better understanding of the options we have to reduce emissions from food and farming while providing food security. Agriculture is the source of roughly 10-12% of total annual GHG emissions and the cause of 75% of deforestation globally, with most of these emissions coming from developing countries. Yet agricultural yields must increase if we are to feed the projected 9 billion people on our planet in 2050. How can we ensure food security in the developing world while reducing the impact of food on the climate?

Flagship 3 seeks to share low emissions agricultural development options, including supporting transformative new practices that promote sustainable intensification and increase production efficiencies for farmers, as well as access to markets for more sustainable products. We work with partners to implement options at large scales that can have significant impacts, while being farmer-led and sensitive to local conditions. 

To decrease the impact of agriculture on the climate, we prioritize agricultural systems with high mitigation potentials, such as avoided deforestation and improved livestock, paddy rice and nitrogen fertilizer management. These systems involve a range of large and small producers in multiple trajectories. We model future scenarios that include trajectories that indicate trends towards higher value products, larger scale farming and more off-farm livelihoods and migration. These shifts may support transitions out of poverty for large numbers of farmers, but they also must be monitored and guarded to avoid the risk of further marginalizing some groups.

How this research leads to impact

Low emissions agriculture must improve farmers' livelihoods and reduce emissions. CCAFS research provides farmers, technical advisors and national policy-makers with science-based evidence and recommendations about low emissions agriculture practices such as improved feed for livestock, more efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers, agroforestry, and water management in paddy rice, and the practices' suitability for different environments and types of farmers. 

As a first step, CCAFS research helps countries reliably estimate emissions from small-scale farms to large-scale landscapes to reveal mitigation options. With improved technical information and capacity, developing countries and their farmers gain increased access to climate finance and strengthen their positions in global negotiations.

As countries emissions data more accurately reflects their particular systems, CCAFS provides decision-makers with tools to evaluate trade-offs and synergies among mitigation options and national objectives. With science-based research, decision-makers can better assess issues, including yield projections, gender equality, social justice, income generation and energy, fertilizer and water use. Decision-making tools - tailored to local, regional, and national scales - diminish uncertainties and allow priority setting.

As informed decision-makers roll out and scale up innovative practices and policies, CCAFS works with partners to ensure that farmers and technicians have the information and resources necessary to innovate towards lower-emissions agriculture.

Our Research areas:

Research in the Low-Emissions Agriculture Flagship is focused around the following three interconnected research areas: