IPCC report: involve small farmers in Africa and Asia in climate smart agriculture
The report “Climate Change and Land” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recently published, demonstrates the urgency of climate smart agriculture. Involving small farmers in Africa and Asia is essential in this. By making capital and knowledge available to small farmers, we can work on poverty reduction, food security and climate resilience.
The IPCC report shows that the current intensive land use contributes to climate change. Due to, among other things, the large CO2 emissions that agriculture entails, agriculture is one of the largest environmental polluters. This has adverse consequences for agriculture itself and therefore for our food supply: droughts and floods deplete the available agricultural land. Think of desertification in the Sahel and flooding in Bangladesh. Introducing climate smart agriculture to small farmers in Africa and Asia is a step in the right direction.
Why small farmers?
Of the approximately 570 million farmers worldwide, around 83% are small farms in Sub-Saharan Africa or Asia. These small farmers with fields of less than 2 hectares exploit approximately 12% of the agricultural land worldwide. They produce a large part of the food supply of the people there. Yet many of these farmers are poor. They therefore lack capital and knowledge for further development of their agriculture.
Small farmers in developing countries often produce for themselves or for local markets. Their production can be improved with simple innovative techniques with respect for the climate. For example by making geodata available via mobile phones. This way, farmers know better what the weather forecast is and adjust their water and pesticide use accordingly. In Bangladesh, for example, I spoke to a farmer who used geodata to use less water for his land (cost-saving!). What’s more, compared to other farmers in his area, he produced larger potatoes through more precise water and pesticide use. This not only ensures better income for the farmer, but it is also better for the soil and better for the climate (less wastage of water).
Another example is that small farmers are more often affected by climate change. Floods occur in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, which increases the salt concentration in the soil. As a result, crops no longer grow and the land is no longer suitable for agriculture. ICCO introduces saline farming here, so that farmers learn that it is actually possible to grow crops, like carrots and kohlrabi, on salty soil. This makes unusable soil effective again and allows small farmers to consume more vegetables. An important step in the food security of these people.
Small farmers in particular – with the right approach – are receptive to these types of innovation. By making capital and knowledge available to these farmers, it is therefore possible to work on poverty reduction, food security and climate resilience all at once.