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COP23 - Is sustainable land and water management compatible with small-scale farming under climate change?

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COP23 - Is sustainable land and water management compatible with small-scale farming under climate change?

During a panel discussion on “The Land and Water Advantage: Is sustainable land and water management compatible with small-scale farming under climate change?” at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change  Conference (COP23) in Bonn, participants from different organizations met to discuss how to transform agricultural development in the face of climate change.  

Moderated by Dhanush Dinesh, Global Policy Engagement Manager at Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CGIAR), the discussion aimed to determine which conditions favour sustainable land and water management and to highlight innovations and policies creating favourable conditions for smallholder farmers.  As stated by one of the panellist Theo de Jorge: “there is no agriculture without land rights and water access rights.”

Climate change adaptation in agriculture will be driven by growing pressure on water and land, and the food production will have to keep up with increasing demand.  “We need to produce 60% more food by 2025” said Alan Nicol, Strategic Program Leader, Promoting Sustainable Growth, International Water Management Institute (IWMI). “Managing agricultural water availability access and use is key to success” he added. He presented innovations in water management and highlighted challenges in their deployment.

 “Climate change will increase food prices and increasing food prices worsens extreme poverty” Jan Low, 2016 World Food Prize co-laureate and Co-leader of the Sweet potato for Profit and Health Initiative, International Potato Center (CIP) said. She made a presentation on whether non-GMO climate-smart crops can sustain small-scale farming, drawing from her experience in Africa with the Sweet potato for Profit and Health Initiative at the International Potato Center. “To adapt to climate change we need to produce more adapted crops faster at times under tougher environments and we need to produce more with less water.”  she continued.

James Kinyangi, African Development Bank’ s Chief Climate Change & Policy Advisor remarked that agriculture remains a major source of income in Africa. However, its untapped potential has resulted in widespread chronic poverty and food insecurity. “In Africa 61% of the total employment is in agriculture.” Kinyangi emphasized that a supporting enabling environment in Africa includes risk management, asset protection and the inclusion of women and youth, through greater access to agricultural finance. He affirmed that the Bank is giving much attention to the development of agribusiness as a significant proportion of 70 million new jobs by 2020 will be created in the agricultural sector in Africa. He identified  conditions that have to be set to enable the supporting environment for smallholder farmers in Africa.

The session was part of initiative: Agriculture Advantage: The case for climate action in agriculture.

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