Big Talk for Smallholders

22 May 2012

Despite the Convention objective in Article 2 to stabilize emissions before food production is threatened, impacts of climate change on food production are already being felt around the world. Floods have decimated wheat fields in Pakistan and rice fields in Thailand. Heat waves have seriously reduced yields of Russian wheat and US maize. Drought cost Texas agriculture US$8 billion last year and tens of thousands of lives in the Horn of Africa.

Local and mostly small-scale food producers feed the vast majority of the global population. They are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This in turn threatens food security across the world. As temperatures rise and the weather becomes more unpredictable, large areas of land will become unsuitable for smallholders’ current agricultural practices. Enabling smallholders to adapt, protect their livelihoods and contribute to food security become crucial objectives.

Adaptation is the most urgent and compelling need for smallholders, particularly in developing countries, who have the least resilience and means to cope. This is why SBSTA must consider the impacts of climate change across all scales of food production and find approaches to ensuring food security for all.

The CGIAR has already published many sobering reports on the impacts on food production. Ghana will lose cocoa production on huge portions of its territory. Tea production in the highlands of East Africa will migrate up slopes and significantly contract in area. Developing country economies are often quite dependent on valuable export crops whose production will significantly diminish. Climate change and agriculture conversations will bleed over into the negotiations on loss and damage.

In order for small-scale farmers to be able to adapt and to build their adaptive capacity, they must be enabled to practice farming systems that are resilient to long-term climate change, including indigenous practices that strengthen the ecosystems which they are a part of. This form of agro-ecological smallholder farming and other forms of sustainable and climate-resilient food production should be promoted.

So, whilst the UNFCCC considers agriculture  in  SBSTA,  ECO  asks  Parties to provide scientific  and  technical  advice regarding biodiverse, resilient agriculture based on agro-ecological principles, and explore appropriate technology development and  transfer.

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