|Kanayo F. Nwanze|
Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD), Photo: IFAD
Small farmers are challenged by poverty and food security. In regions like sub-Saharan Africa and Asia they account for up to 80 percent of land in production. They encounter first hand the problem arising out of environmental degradation and climate change. Nwanze's article notes that it is critical that "we support developing countries to improve policies and incentives to enable small farmers to adopt climate-smart practices and approaches." This involves a fundamental understanding that "farming is a business, even for the poorest farmers on the planet. Today's focus needs to show small farmers not only how to increase their yields through sustainable approaches, but also how to make money and improve their lives when they implement such approaches."
"The enormous, life-giving success of the "Green Revolution" -- which a generation ago focused on the proliferation of high yielding, pest- and-disease-resistant varieties of staple crops like rice and wheat -- needs to give way to new, environmentally sustainable approaches that preserve and enhance the soil and ground water and use natural processes working with, rather than against, ecosystems to fertilize crops and to ward off pest damage."
"At IFAD we've seen these techniques work in many places. In parts of Africa, new agroforestry methods such as planting acacia trees in maize fields have helped farmers double their yields, as well as improving soil conditions for longer term productivity. In South Gansu province of China, I saw with my own eyes how local farmers are fighting drought and improving soil quality through a variety of basic techniques such as rainwater harvesting. And in Burkina Faso, smallholder farmers are deploying simple water harvesting techniques such as planting pits and permeable rock dams, along with crop-livestock integration to increase their productivity and restore degraded land."
Looking towards Rio+20, Nwanze points out that we must find solutions since agriculture accounts for between 14 and 30 % of greenhouse gases emitted each year (depending on if land-use change and forestry are factored in).
For more see:
Nwanze, Kanayo F. “Farmers are Ready to do their part on Climate Change,” Huffington Post, 15 February 2012.