The fundamental purpose of farming is to feed humanity. But the reality of contemporary agriculture is often quite different, and it is costing the planet dearly. EurActiv France reports. Europe’s fertile plains produce an abundant cereal crop, some of which ends up as bread or pasta. But much of it is also used for animal feed: maize provides proteins for cattle, and barley, when it is not used to make beer, is exported to feed sheep in Saudi Arabia. And one in ten European cars now runs on biodiesel from rapeseed. The variety of different aims pursued by modern farmers have caused a ten-fold increase in the sector’s environmental impact. Agriculture now accounts for one quarter of the planet's Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it one of the most carbon-intensive activities.
Enteric methane emissions due to the poor quality of fodder and diet of ruminants are the subject of an international meeting in Dakar. Twenty researchers from Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali are in the process of exchanging knowledge and experience with their colleagues from the French agricultural research and international cooperation organisation CIRAD on a project led by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with the support of an international coalition for the climate (CCAC), to reduce the greenhouse gas effect linked to methane emissions from livestock.
The Department for International Development (DFID) has promised to invest £30million in climate change programme in Nigeria. This is contained in a statement issued by DFID’s Director of Information, Mr Tony Ohaeri on Friday in Abuja. The statement said DFID’s Head of Office, Mr Ben Meller, gave the promise when he paid a visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh. “DFID would invest the sum of £30million in climate change programme in Nigeria and we are ready to give financial supports to the rural areas through the Bank of Agriculture. “Challenges such as climate change, finance, infrastructure among others are militating against sustainable growth of the sector.
Government is partnering with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and people in action to establish self-sufficient communities through Permaculture, or the use of modern science for sustainability. John Stollmeyer Director of Caribbean Permaculture Consultants told GIS the idea is to get communities to be creative with ideas for production that are inexpensive to start, but with big profit margins. “We’re setting up a model where we will be teaching permaculture, so people will come in and learn the skills and go back into their communities and share those skills.
Crop production prospects in Southern Africa have been weakened by the El Niño weather phenomenon that has lowered rains and increased temperatures, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said. A reduced agricultural output would follow on last year's disappointing season, which has already contributed to higher food prices and "could acutely impact the food security situation in 2016," according to a special alert released on Dec. 22 by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).
Ugandan farmers are increasingly inter-planting coffee, the country's primary export, and banana, a staple food, as a way of coping with the effects of climate change. In densely populated Elgon and Rwenzori Mountains, the two crops have been planted together on smallholder farms despite recommendations under the colonial agricultural extension system to separate these in Central and Western Uganda where land was believed to be plentiful. With growing population pressure and climate change, this is no longer possible. But studies by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partner organizations show that a Ugandan farmer gets 50 per cent more income from inter cropping coffee and banana than from growing either crop alone
Fiji's drought-stricken residents in the Western Division are set for some relief with the delivery of water tanks. The European Union has provided over a million euros to Fiji which will fund a new emergency operations centre and help the supply of water to dry parts in Nadi, Nadroga and Ba provinces, as well as out to the remote Yasawa islands. The Director of the National Disaster Management Office, Akapusi Tuifagalele, says a low pressure system has brought rain recently to relieve residents but the drought is expected to last until the end of March.
In Uganda, Africa4Climate provides technical assistance to the Kampala city authority (KCCA), supporting its low-carbon and climate change resilient municipal development strategy as well as its energy efficiency strategy. Expertise France used the 21st UN conference on climate change (COP21) in Paris to showcase its sustainable development activities. On 4th December, at the Generation Climate space, Expertise France presented its Africa4Climate project, in conjunction with its financial partners, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM).
France is leading a worldwide push to increase the amount of carbon locked in soils through better farming practices. Supporters of an initiative launched at the COP 21 summit say this would limit global warming by removing carbon from the atmosphere, while also increasing the range and amount of food farmers produce by improving soil fertility. This would particularly benefit developing countries, according to representatives of the 4 Pour 1000 initiative. It’s a bit of a scientific dream, but we have a lot of evidence that supports this dream.”
The 196 parties to COP21 have specified, in the agreement of 12 December, that climate aid from the countries of the North to the countries of the South, supposed to reach 100 billion dollars annually in 2020, must be regarded as a “lower limit” destined to be increased. For the countries of the North this will involve continuing and surpassing their promise made at the Copenhagen conference in 2009 to repay their “climate debt” by means of public and private financing. The financial commitment of the countries of the North has in fact already been a reality for several years. The European Union, in particular, prides itself on being the biggest contributor of climate-related funding to developing countries.