Failure to act now will compromise future food production, sabotage 2030 development agenda

 

Photo credit: FAO

Members of an Indian farmers group measure local groundwater levels at an observation well.

FAO Director-General urges more support to help small farmers adapt to a changing climate

Failure to act now to make our food systems more resilient to climate change will “seriously compromise” food production in many regions and could doom to failure international efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned today.

“Agriculture holds the key to solving two of the greatest problems now facing humanity: eradicating poverty and hunger, and contributing to maintaining the stable climatic conditions in which civilization can thrive,” he told participants at a roundtable on climate change during the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The FAO Director-General stressed in particular the need to support smallholder farmers in the developing world adapt to climate change.

“The vast majority of the extremely poor and hungry depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, he said, adding: “They are the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming and an unstable climate.”

Innovative approaches exist that can help them improve yields and build their resilience, he said, such as green manuring, greater use of nitrogen-fixing cover crops, improving sustainable soil management, agroforestry techniques, and integrating animal production into cropping systems.

“But farmers face major barriers, such as the lack of access to credit and markets, lack of knowledge and information, insecurity about land tenure, and high transaction costs of moving away from existing practices,” the Director-General noted.

He pointed to the fact that 70 countries do not have established meteorological services as an example. FAO is working with the World Meteorological Organization to develop low-cost, farmer friendly services to address this need.

To withstand the vagaries of a harsher, less predictable climate, small farmers will also need better access to other sorts of technologies and to markets, information and finance — as well as better land tenure and improved agriculture infrastructure, added Graziano da Silva.

Ultimately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, he argued.

Read the full article: FAO

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.