Expecting the World: Do More, With Less
Climate change, like most injustices, will affect the lives of the poor the hardest and the soonest. 75% of the global poor garner their incomes from agriculture, meaning that reductions in rainfall, varying temperatures, and continued depletion of soil quality will have a tremendous impact on income and food security in some of the world’s most vulnerable rural communities.
Current agriculture practices and lack of investment in sustainable global agriculture have combined to create a myriad of self-perpetuating problems, propelling the world towards an uncertain future for both global food security and poverty reduction. Agriculture contributes to over 14% of total global greenhouses gases, 75% of which comes from the developing world. With over 3 billion people in developing countries finding their income and their access to food by farming small plots of land, agriculture is where poverty reduction, climate change, and food security intersect.
High Expectations:MoreProductivity withLess Environmental Impact
To feed the over 9 billion people on the planet, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates a 70% increase in food production is needed to combat hunger and maintain food access. Consequently, because of agriculture’s contributions to climate change and its role in poverty reduction, the current challenges of agriculture are immense:
- To double food production in order to feed over 9 billion people
- Cease contributions to climate change through reduced reliance oncarbon-centric production methods
- Continue to contribute to the well-being of some of the world’s poorest people
This puts small farmers center stage as a sector capable of both benefiting tremendously from technology and knowledge transfer, and asa critical partner for food-trade companies and consumers to have continued access to food.
New Momentum for Agriculture Research
Investment in agriculture must happen in order to achieve food security, combat hunger and poverty, and adapt to climate impact – without degrading or depleting natural resources.
Research and extension systems for agriculture have regrettably been neglected in the last decades, suffering from lack of investment and capacity building. Integration of research, evolving political dialogues, and policies on climate change, poverty reduction, food security and bioenergy are insufficiently linked, as was discussed during last weeksAgriculture and Rural Development Day at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
The FAO is estimating a gap of over $83 billion for increased agricultural development in order to generate enough food production to sustainably feed the world and reduce climate change impact by 2050.For the Consultive Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) and specifically here in CIAT, we are seeing new energy around sustainable agriculture and connecting small growers to formal markets. With the urgency of climate change ever-complicating our push for sustainable agriculture, we’re looking at this as an opportunity to increase awareness, open up dialogue, and build capacities in Latin America , Africa and Asia.. All while advocating that global market chains need to become more amenable to small farmers in developing nations. Joining up with new partners in the public and private sector (including last week’s announcement of the Gates Foundation officially joined the CGIAR) we’re confident that an alternative future for the poor and for the globe, is within reach