GLOBAL - The pledge to eradicate hunger and poverty must go hand in hand with rapid transformations of farming and food systems to cope with a warmer world, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said in a new report.
Agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and livestock production, generate around a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture must both contribute more to combating climate change while bracing to overcome its impacts, according to The State of Food and Agriculture 2016.
"There is no doubt climate change affects food security," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said while presenting the report. "We cannot assure any more that we will have the harvest we have planted."
The FAO report underscores that success in transforming food and agriculture systems will largely depend on urgently supporting smallholders in adapting to climate change.
The FAO report describes alternative, economically viable ways of helping smallholders to adapt and making the livelihoods of rural populations - often the most exposed to the downside risks of climate change - more resilient.
The report provides evidence that adoption of ‘climate-smart' practices, such as the use of nitrogen-efficient and heat-tolerant crop varieties, zero-tillage and integrated soil fertility management would boost productivity and farmers' incomes. Widespread adoption of nitrogen-efficient practices alone would reduce the number of people at risk of undernourishment by more than 100 million, the report estimates.
It also identifies avenues to lower emission intensity from agriculture. Water-conserving alternatives to the flooding of rice paddies for example, can slash methane emissions by 45 per cent, while emissions from the livestock sector can be reduced by up to 41 per cent through the adoption of more efficient practices. Food systems can further contribute by minimising food losses and waste, as well as by promoting healthier diets that also leave a lighter environmental footprint.
FAO's road map also identifies policies and financing opportunities for the sustainable intensification of agriculture.
You can view the full report by clicking here.