Adopting sustainable land, water, fisheries and forestry management practices among smallholder farmers is critical to end global poverty and hunger, a new report says.
The State of Food and Agriculture report 2016, titled “Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security,” says limited capacity of smallholder farmers to manage risks posed by climate change poses a great challenge which needs to be addressed urgently.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, that was launched earlier this week in Rome, Italy, underscores that success in transforming food and agriculture systems will largely depend on how fast smallholder farmers receive support in adapting to climate change.
“The world faces an unprecedented double challenge: to eradicate hunger and poverty and to stabilise the global climate. These impacts will jeopardise progress towards the key Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger and poverty by 2030; beyond 2030, their increasingly negative impacts on agriculture will be widespread,” the report warns.
The sheer number of smallholder farm families in developing countries – some 475 million –, the FAO survey says, justifies a specific focus on the threat posed by climate change to their livelihoods and the urgent need to transform those livelihoods along sustainable pathways.
FAO urges countries to urgently increase investment in the agriculture sector.
It also calls for urgent investments in irrigation and other water management infrastructure.
“The impact of climate change on agriculture and the implications for food security are already alarming. There is an urgent need to support smallholders in adapting to climate change. They will require far greater access to technologies, markets, information and credit for investment to adjust their production systems and practices to climate change” the report says.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva pointed out that there is no doubt climate change affects food security.
“What climate change does is to bring back uncertainties from the time we were all hunter gatherers. We cannot assure any more that we will have the harvest we have planted. That uncertainty also translates into volatile food prices, he noted. “Everybody is paying for that, not only those suffering from droughts,” Da Silva said.
The report advises countries to align climate and development goals that focus on actions that address climate change, either through adaptation or mitigation.
Although climate change impacts agriculture, it says, the sector also contributes to climate change, generating one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions through agriculture, forestry and land-use change.
Quoting the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab., 2016, the FAO publication reiterated that the total smallholder financing needs in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia are some $210 billion per year.
While climate change is but one driver of poverty and food insecurity, its impacts are expected to be substantial, according to the report.
The report also warns that the population living in poverty could increase by between 35 and 122 million by 2030 relative to a future without climate change, largely due to its negative impacts on incomes in the agricultural sector.
The increase in the number of the poor would be biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, partly because its population is more reliant on agriculture, it warns.
Agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and livestock production, generate around one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture, therefore, must both contribute more to combating climate change while bracing to overcome its impacts, experts say.
COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE
The Paris Agreement of December 2015 has set the long-term goal of holding the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2 °C” above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, with the view that this move would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
Rwanda and Ethiopia, for example, the report cites, have achieved significant productivity growth and correspondingly large reductions in rural poverty.
Nearly 800 million people remain food insecure while almost 160 million children under the age of five are stunted, FAO says.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger as one person in four (or 23.2 per cent of the population), was estimated to be undernourished in 2014–2016, according to FAO, with some 233 million people in Africa being hungry/undernourished.
In Kigali, last week, the Meeting of Parties to Montreal Protocol agreed to an amendment that sets the dates for phase down of highly potent gas, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used in air conditioning and refrigeration electronics.
Environmentalists say if HFC is not checked, it will become virtually impossible to meet the Paris Agreement targets of holding warming below 2°C.Follow https://twitter.com/EmNtirenganya