IFAD: Smallholder farmers key to climate and food security solution

01-11-2010 | | |

Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), on his way to attend The Hague Conference on Food Security, Agriculture and Climate Change said: “Smallholder agriculture lies at the very heart of the climate and food security response of our next agricultural revolution. While there are challenges, there are also opportunities. We must approach this ‘new revolution’ with the understanding that agriculture and the environment must be addressed as a package”.

Governments, international organizations, the private sector, NGOs, philanthropic foundations, local community producers and the scientific community are gathering in The Hague, Netherlands from October 31 to November 5, to chart ways to achieve long-term poverty reduction objectives whilst simultaneously building environmental benefits, climate resilience and low carbon growth pathways. The conference will address issues confronting the agriculture sector including the degradation of ecosystems.

“The agriculture sector is uniquely endowed with investment opportunities that reduce poverty, increase food security and respond to climate change. Smallholders can be central to meeting the twin challenges of feeding the world and climate change – there are some 500 million smallholder farms worldwide feeding almost one-third of humanity, and they are stewards of a large share of the world’s natural environment – they farm 80% of the farm land in Africa and Asia”, said Elwyn Grainger-Jones, IFAD Director of the Environment and Climate Division, who is also attending the conference.

Today the word faces one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century: how to feed 9 billion people by 2050. 75% of the world’s poor are living in rural areas and most are involved in farming, comprising crop and livestock production, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, biomass, and agro-industries. Growth in the agriculture sector remains fundamental for poverty alleviation, economic growth and environmental sustainability. Agriculture is under threat from climate change, with increased incidence of floods and droughts, higher temperatures in many of the most vulnerable parts of the globe, different patterns in the occurrence of weeds, pests, and diseases, and increased vulnerability of organic carbon pools.

The IFAD President said: “For poor, vulnerable communities, climate change is creating perfect storms that are making it more difficult to feed themselves and earn enough money to meet their families’ needs”.

“Environmental threats such as climate change are inseparable from IFAD’s mission. Agriculture can be part of the solution. There are many examples of sustainable agricultural practices that can and must be scaled up. Farming is and can be a renewable process today, we must push for a second agricultural revolution that is both sustainable and inclusive”, Nwanze concluded.