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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Promoting Food Security: The Contribution of Climate-Smart Agriculture

The Challenge

The world’s population is expected to grow from the current seven billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. At the same time, consumption patterns are shifting towards diets containing more protein. So the Fo ...

The world’s population is expected to grow from the current seven billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. At the same time, consumption patterns are shifting towards diets containing more protein. So the Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that meeting the growing global demand for food requires a 70% increase in total agricultural production.

Consistency of policies: Governments need to take a holistic approach to tackling climate change and ensuring food security by devising appropriate policies and providing the right incentives for farmers through e.g. land tenure security, access to financial services, and access to markets . Agricultural service providersand private investment into agriculture need to be strengthened  and legal and political barriers for agricultural businesses reduced. This needs to be ensured by consistent policies.

Improve productivity sustainably using existing knowledge: Many solutions do exist, but farmers must be enabled to adopt climate-adapted/climate-resilient practices by providing institutional and financial support to enable smallholders to make the transition to climate-smart agriculture. In doing so, it needs to be ensured that food security remains at the centre of climate-smart agriculture and that the focus on “climate” does not distract attention away from food security In the quest for an increase of productivity, relevant stakeholders need to enhance attentiveness towards to some of the unintended social and environmental consequences of potential improvements, such as potential negative impacts of GMOs, loss of soil fertility or exclusion from markets.

Involve local communities: There is no one-size-fits-all solution for designing strategies and solutions to enhance food security and adaptation of agriculture to climate change. Thus, when designing national and international strategies local stakeholders need to be involved to identify the climate-smart options that best fit their agro-ecological and socio-economic environment. Stakeholders are local communities, in particular small-scale farmers and women (since women play a major role in food security at the household level) and farmer organizations that can increase the negotiating and lobbying power of farmers.

Invest in research: adapt research to local needs, increase research on outcomes of climate –smart agriculture, e.g. explore the potential benefits to farmers from increasing the stock of carbon in the soil, find ways to let developing country farmer participate in research and development activities in order to improve adoption rates/applicability of results, link disciplines to provide holistic results.

Modify markets such that  prices reflect true costs: Modern and climate-smart agriculture will require reflecting the true costs – economic, environmental and social – of different systems in the price of products. This entails internalizing external costs associated with resource depletion, loss of carbon stocks, loss of ecosystem services and setting of incentives that encourage sustainable and climate-resilient practices that create positive externalities (e.g. payments for environmental services and payments/incentives for emission reductions).

Enable international climate finance for adaptation of agriculture: The long established focus of international climate finance on “mitigation” leaves out many smallholders that may not have a large mitigation potential but need to adapt to climate change to ensure their food security. International adaptation funds should be strengthened to ensure the transition of these farmers to climate-smart agriculture.

Promote sustainable and climate-smart agro-input systems: Access to climate-resilient agro-inputs including a strengthened role of locally adapted varities needs to be increased; patent and trade laws and regulations relating to agricultural genetic resources should be changed to support local farmers and protect their knowledge and training on climate-smart application of agro-inputs should be provided.

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