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5 Stages Towards Climate Resilient Local Food Systems

October 16 marks World Food Day, a day on which the whole world reflects on SDG2: Zero Hunger. Zero hunger goes beyond hunger; it means access to affordable, enough and nutritious food for everyone, everywhere. However, climate change poses major risks for food security. At ICCO we therefore aim for climate-resilient local food systems in order to achieve food security for smallholder farmers. How? We explain in 5 stages.

5 Stages Towards Climate Resilient Local Food Systems

By Marijke de Graaf, Food and Nutrition Security Expert

Climate change poses major risks for agricultural production and food security. Extreme weather events are increasing in unpredictability, frequency and intensity. In developing countries, they are severely affecting smallholder farmers and their communities due to their lower adaptive capacities.

The United Nations states: “A profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, i.e. end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”

This shows that The Climate is on Our Plate. How can we act? ICCO’s approach in 5 stages towards climate-resilient local food systems.

1. Climate-Smart Agriculture

Soil fertility, water availability and biodiversity are central to productive, efficient and climate-resilient agrifood systems. These can be improved by diversification of vegetation and agroforestry approaches, making better use of land and water resources. These approaches include the plantation, preservation and management of perennial crops and trees (such as papaya, mango and moringa), favoring water retention,  the recycling and use of sub-soil nutrients and generation of firewood for cooking. These strategies will increase the resilience of farming systems against climate shock and contribute to stabilizing agricultural production of smallholder farmers. Through the use of lead farmers and demo plots we convince farmers of these climate-smart practices.

Example of climate-smart agriculture: Salt Solution

2. Post-Harvest Handling

At global level an estimated one third of all food produced is lost or goes to waste (FAO). Adequate post-harvest handling, including proper storage and processing, is important to reduce pressure on existing natural resources. This is important  to get the most out of arable land, in a climate-resilient way of course, while it can contribute significantly to food security. Depending on the context, interventions may consist of better storage, the establishment of new local processing units, improved marketing, and/or better linkages between stakeholders in the value chain.

Example of post-harvest handling: Strengthening African Rural Smallholders

3. Access to New Technologies

>Agriculture has been supported by rapid developments in information and communication technologies. Across developing countries mobile financial services are booming. Likewise, social media and apps help farmers forecast the weather or know about market prices. However, smallholder farmers still have limited access to these services. Therefore, more attention is needed for technology transfer and farmer education to realize the full potential of digital technologies for sustainable and inclusive development.

Example of access to new technologies: Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW)

4. Conducive Local Governance and Policy Frameworks

For climate-resilient activities to have a lasting and sustainable impact, policy frameworks should be coherent across different sectors. Incentives for adopting climate-resilient practices should be included. Related to this the FAO states that  good governance and accountable management structures are essential.

In order to contribute to this ICCO works with a variety of stakeholders. This requires multi-stakeholder mobilization and facilitation, including Government officials, local leaders, communities, target groups, natural conservation organisations and private sector actors.

Example of conducive Local Governance and Policy Frameworks: Civic Engagement Alliance

5. Include Women and Youth

From practice we have learned that enabling women to have equal access to inputs, services and land can improve yields. FAO supported research revealed that production could increase with 20% and poverty would decline, if women would have equal access to productive resources.

The involvement of the next generation of food producers, i.e. youth, in transitions towards climate resilient agrifood systems is also important. Lack of information about appropriate technologies and practices, as well as lack of access to natural resources are especially challenging for young people. We aim to address these challenges in supporting diversified farming systems and food enterprises, including access to land, credit and information. Digital technologies present new opportunities to engage young people.

Read more about ICCO’s vision on youth.