More countries call for greater collaboration on food security

MANILA, Philippines — Several agricultural countries, including the Philippines, are struggling to improve production amid the threats posed by climate change.

The Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) said climate smart agriculture should be adopted in major food-producing regions, especially in Asia, as majority of the world may greatly depend on the region for their own food requirement in the next few years.

“Just like in the Philippines, we already have some practices done by farmers but we have to do it in a more concerted way so that more farmers will benefit and there will be more impact on the environment,” said CCAFS Southeast Asia regional program leader Leocadio Sebastian.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach that helps in determining the actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate.

CSA aims to tackle three main objectives namely, sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and income, adapting and building resilience to climate change, and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that approximately $265 billion should be invested yearly for the whole world until 2050 to ensure sufficient food supply.

It estimated that feeding the world population would require a 60 percent increase in total agricultural production.

“We have to look at the landscape starting from the village level to the province and to the country to be able to monitor the progress. There is a need to do it with other countries in the region, that is if you want to meet the global targets,” Sebastian said.

While there have been efforts by the national government, like developing climate resilient rice varieties, farm diversification, mitigating methane gas emissions, utilizing biotechnology, and using non-conventional irrigation systems, CSA has not been largely adopted by local farmers.
“There’s room for improvement. We have to look at the productivity, it is much lower than other ASEAN producing countries,” Sebastian said.

“Other countries improved infrastructure, roads, irrigation and technology,” he added.

Implementing CSA needs the expansion of evidence base and assessment tools to identify agricultural growth strategies for food security that integrate necessary adaptation and potential mitigation, as well as the building of policy frameworks and consensus to support implementation at scale.

It also requires the strengthening of national and local institutions to enable farmer management of climate risks and adoption of context-suitable agricultural practices, technologies and systems.

More importantly, CSA needs enhancement in the financing options to support implementation.

The Asian Development Bank, for instance, considers CSA as one of its strategic focus areas for food security engagement.

“But at the end of the day, if the government does not sign up for the development project, we cannot leverage. Some governments are not willing to invest,” said Mitchiko Katagami, ADB principal natural resources and agriculture specialist.

“The Asia-Pacific is going to be hit hard. Climate change is a real threat, farmers are just starting to feel that threat and there is really a need for the government to invest in CSA,” she added.

“Smallholder farmers in Asia may happen to be the weakest segment. In terms of value [of investments], it is much less. Look at the energy [sector], it is hundreds and hundreds of million dollars versus typical lending for agriculture,” Katagami said.

Katagami said inequality in emerging economies is expanding particularly those making money in the urban areas versus the ones in the rural area which can not make much out of agriculture.

“ASEAN countries’ economic performance is actually great but inequality issue is something that you have to deal with. Plus the food industry and the market size is expanding,” she said.

“China is a huge market and their demand will keep going. The same thing goes for India. Whose going to supply for these?” she added.

-Published in The Philippine Star.  See original article link here.