Farming’s climate smart future: placing agriculture at the heart of climate-change policy

Farming’s climate smart future: placing agriculture at the heart of climate-change policy

Adapting to climate change and increasing food production through climate smart agriculture

This paper places agriculture at the heart of climate change policy stating that climate change is already changing the face of farming. Increases in temperature, changing patterns of rainfall, more extreme droughts and floods, and the shifting distribution of pests and diseases can all be attributed in part to the increase in emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from human activities. Because these factors have an impact on food production, adapting to climate change through climate smart agriculture must be the first priority for the agriculture sector.

The paper states that for agriculture to be part of the solution to climate change, it should be eligible for support from existing and future climate change financing mechanisms, including:

  • public sector funding processes
  • carbon markets using formal arrangements such as the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and voluntary schemes like the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund.
On climate smart agriculture, the paper outlines the following changes farmers need to make:
  • shifting from one farming system to another
  • improving production and feed systems
  • developing new breeds of ruminant which produce less methane
  • introducing methods of manure management which reduce emissions and integrating livestock with crops in order to reduce waste and improve soil fertility
  • better grazing management to improve animal nutrition and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The paper suggests the following policy approaches.
  • Countries need to take a holistic approach to tackling climate change and ensuring food security by devising the appropriate policies and providing the right incentives for farmers.
  • Reward farmers for adopting practices that generate multiple benefits for food security, development and climate change.
  • Measures should be taken to ensure that smallholders can benefit from carbon markets and the CDM.
  • Establish pilot projects which provide proof of the virtues of climate smart agriculture, including: the development of national plans for agricultural adaptation and mitigation; conducting trials of market-based mechanisms to reduce emissions; reducing the transaction costs of involving smallholders in mitigation activities; testing new approaches for disseminating information to farmers about relevant adaptation technologies and practices.
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