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Wiping out hunger in Africa could cost just $5bn. What are we waiting for? | Feike Sijbesma

By Feike Sijbesma from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 15, 2019.

Ripping off the bandage of food aid and investing in self-sufficiency is the only way to fight malnutrition

Billions are spent on humanitarian aid, yet nearly 60 million children across Africa go to bed hungry.

Efforts to alleviate the constant cycle of droughts, poverty and war have caused new problems. The biggest of these is a crippling dependency on food aid that is undermining much of the continent’s efforts to feed itself.

Feike Sijbesma is CEO of global life sciences company Royal DSM. AIF is a partnership between Royal DSM, the Dutch development bank FMO, the UK development finance CDC Group, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Rwandan government

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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I’m a farmer, and no-deal Brexit would put me out of business | Will Case

By Will Case from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 09, 2019.

Crashing out of the EU would not end uncertainty and would be a dark day for agriculture and food in Britain

Here in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, the sun is out, our grass is growing and the sky is blue. Sheep are busily nibbling the pasture while cattle are basking in the summer warmth. These are perfect conditions for farming. The animals are content and the farmers are working hard.

Everything should be fine, but there is a big, dark cloud lurking on the horizon: the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. This is a threat to everything we do. The uncertainty around Brexit and the prospect of trade tariffs that would cripple our business is a real worry. The future direction of UK-produced food is simply unknown.

Related: The UK can’t accept backward US food standards – or chlorinated chicken | George Eustice

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New Study: How much do climate fluctuations matter for global crop yields?

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jul 08, 2019.

Jul 8, 2019
Press Release

New Study: How much do climate fluctuations matter for global crop yields?

Washington D.C.: The El Niño-Southern Oscillation has been responsible for widespread, simultaneous crop failures in recent history, according to a new study from researchers at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Soc…

The Indian state where farmers sow the seeds of death

By Vivek Chaudhary from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 01, 2019.

Cancer rates are the highest in the country, drug addiction is rife, and 900 farmers have killed themselves in two years. How did Punjab turn toxic?

The road to Langroya village weaves its way through fields rich with crops that offer a vivid snapshot of India’s kitchens. There is wheat, rice, sugarcane, maize, mustard seed and a rich variety of vegetables that have made this corner of the country India’s most important agricultural region.

Like the majority of their compatriots in Punjab, Langroya’s residents rely on farming for their existence. About three-quarters of the state’s 30 million-strong population is involved in agriculture, with wheat the number one commodity. But while Punjab is known as “India’s bread basket”, there are challenges amid the abundance.

Related: Childhoods lost: disabilities and seizures blight India's endosulfan victims | Amrit Dhillon

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Yemen's Houthi rebels accused of diverting food aid from hungry

By Karen McVeigh from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 17, 2019.

Head of UN’s World Food Programme threatens suspension of food aid if safe delivery not assured

The head of the United Nations food agency has accused Yemen’s Houthi rebels of diverting food from the country’s hungriest people and threatened to suspend food aid.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said the agency had found “serious evidence” that food supplies had been diverted in the capital, Sana’a and other Houthi-controlled areas in the country, which is in the midst of a four-year civil war. He called on the Houthis to implement agreements that would allow the UN agency to operate independently.

Related: Devastation of shelling in Hodeidah: 'My daughters died hungry' | Rod Austin and Karl Schembri

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Two million people at risk of starvation as drought returns to Somalia

By Rebecca Ratcliffe from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 06, 2019.

Agencies sound the alarm over ‘climate crisis’ after devastation of crops and livestock

More than 2 million people could face starvation by the end of the summer, unless there are urgent efforts to respond to the drought in Somalia.

Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian chief, said the country is facing one of the driest rainy seasons in more than three decades, and a “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation”.

Related: 'We're excluded from the table': Somali UN staff say they struggle in 'two-tier' aid sector

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Nearly half of all child deaths in Africa stem from hunger, study shows

By Saeed Kamali Dehghan from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 05, 2019.

Almost 60 million children deprived of food despite continent’s economic growth, in what is ‘fundamentally a political problem’

One in three African children are stunted and hunger accounts for almost half of all child deaths across the continent, an Addis Ababa-based thinktank has warned.

In an urgent call for action, a study by the African Child Policy Forum said that nearly 60 million children in Africa do not have enough food despite the continent’s economic growth in recent years.

Related: Sub-Saharan Africa can only grow if it solves hunger crisis – UNDP

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2019 Global Food Policy Report: Improved Regional Ties and Agricultural Reforms Offer Promising Opportunities for Rural Revitalization and Improved Food and Nutrition Security in Central Asia

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on May 31, 2019.

May 31, 2019
Press Release

2019 Global Food Policy Report: Improved Regional Ties and Agricultural Reforms Offer Promising Opportunities for Rural Revitalization and Improved Food and Nutrition Security in Central Asia

Tashkent: To meet growing demand for employment in rural areas and improve food security, Uzbekistan needs to strengthen the role of the private sector in its economy by accelerating reforms, improving institutional framework, and exploring opportuniti…

Childish Gambino choreographer urges fans to step up for young rural Africans

By Hannah Summers from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 29, 2019.

Sherrie Silver, who was behind acclaimed video This is America, launches virtual dance ‘petition’ to promote investment in farming

She made a name for herself as the choreographer behind one of the most controversial yet critically acclaimed music videos of last year.

Now Sherrie Silver, the creative force behind the dance moves in Childish Gambino’s This Is America, is using her success to drive a social media campaign promoting investment in young people in rural Africa.

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2019 Global Food Policy Report: Improved Regional Ties and Agricultural Reforms Offer Promising Opportunities for Rural Revitalization and Improved Food and Nutrition Security in the Eurasian Region

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on May 28, 2019.

May 28, 2019
Press Release

2019 Global Food Policy Report: Improved Regional Ties and Agricultural Reforms Offer Promising Opportunities for Rural Revitalization and Improved Food and Nutrition Security in the Eurasian Region

Moscow: To meet growing demand for employment in rural areas and improve food security, countries in Eurasia need to strengthen the role of the private sector in their economies by accelerating reforms, improving their institutional frameworks, and exp…

Grub's up: roasted crickets to go on sale at London food chain

By Rebecca Smithers from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 13, 2019.

Part of Abokado’s spring menu, insects claimed to be healthy and sustainable food source

It brings a whole new meaning to grabbing some grub for lunch. Roasted crickets are to go on sale this week at outlets of a London snack brand – the first time in the UK edible insects will appear on the regular daily menu at a takeaway food chain.

The crunchy whole crickets, from Eat Grub, will be available in Abokado shops across London from Tuesday as part of the chain’s new spring menu. The sweet chilli and lime-flavoured snack will join its customisable range of toppings for fresh salads, poke bowls and hotpots, and also be available as bagged snacks alongside nuts, edamame and popcorn.

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NEW STUDY: Teen pregnancy still a major challenge in India, strongly linked to child stunting

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on May 10, 2019.

May 15, 2019
Press Release

NEW STUDY: Teen pregnancy still a major challenge in India, strongly linked to child stunting

Study examines links between teen pregnancy and child undernutrition in India.


Urgent need to transform food systems for human and planetary health

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on May 07, 2019.

May 11, 2019
Press Statement

Urgent need to transform food systems for human and planetary health

Statement by Shenggen Fan
Director General, IFPRI
G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting, Niigata, Japan
May 11, 2019

Distinguished guests, 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to commend the G20 Agriculture Ministers for recognizing the need to transform our f…

Research: Cash transfer programs can reduce malnutrition from conflict

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Apr 30, 2019.

Apr 30, 2019
Press Release

Research: Cash transfer programs can reduce malnutrition from conflict

Washington, D.C. – Cash transfer programs that provide households support for purchasing food have effectively reduced conflict-driven acute malnutrition in Yemen, according to new research from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).…

For low-income countries, climate action pays off by 2050

By dsample from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Apr 29, 2019.

Apr 29, 2019
Press Release

For low-income countries, climate action pays off by 2050

April 29, 2019, Washington, D.C. – Successful global efforts to substantially limit greenhouse gas emissions would likely boost GDP growth of poorer countries over the next 30 years, according to new research published in Climatic Change.

Researchers …

Cyclone Idai: 'My family needs to eat, I don't know how we will survive'

By Tendai Marima in Buzi and Beira from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 25, 2019.

In Mozambique, where many people rely on crops to live, Idai’s impact on two key agricultural areas has been devastating

Marie Jose stares out at her field of broken maize stalks, the cobs yellow and mouldy from days of excessive water followed by weeks of extreme sun. She should have harvested them last month, but Cyclone Idai struck her village in Buzi district, in central Mozambique, and destroyed them all.

She is still dealing with the trauma of losing her grandparents and niece to the tropical storm. “They couldn’t hold on in the trees where we were sitting and the wind pushed them into the water,” she says. Their bodies are still missing.

Related: 'The water took everything': Buzi evacuees tell of Cyclone Idai ordeal

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'I don't know how my children will survive': Zimbabwe in crisis | Nyasha Chingono

By Nyasha Chingono from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 19, 2019.

Cyclone Idai washed away the crops that survived a savage drought, leaving 70% of the population in dire need of food

Mutemarare, 61, walks through his corn field, desperately looking for remnants of maize.

He’s not expecting to find any, as most of his crop wilted before reaching maturity, the result of the devastating drought that has hit Zimbabwe.

Related: Mozambique: reporting from a disaster zone - podcast

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IFPRI Signs MoU with Indonesia’s Ministry of Planning

By dsample from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Apr 12, 2019.

Apr 12, 2019
Press Announcement

IFPRI Signs MoU with Indonesia’s Ministry of Planning

April 12, 2019, Washington, D.C. – The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) of Indonesia today affirmed their commitment to eliminating hu…

US-China soy trade war could destroy 13 million hectares of rainforest

By Jonathan Watts from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Mar 27, 2019.

Study suggests Brazil likely to rush to fill China’s sudden soy shortfall by boosting farming

The Amazon rainforest could be the greatest casualty of the trade war between the United States and China, warns a new study showing how deforestation pressures have surged as a result of the geopolitical jolt in global soy markets.

Up to 13m hectares of forest and savannah – an area the size of Greece – would have to be cleared if Brazil and other exporters were to fill the huge shortfall in soy supply to China that has suddenly appeared since Donald Trump imposed hefty tariffs, according to the paper published in Nature.

US exports of the commodity, primarily used to feed livestock, to China plummeted by 50% last year, which the authors say is an unusually sharp level of decline between two trading partners outside wartime.

Related: China promises 'necessary response' to US tariffs as trade war fears grow

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2019 Global Food Policy Report: Media Factsheet

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Mar 25, 2019.

Mar 27, 2019
Media Factsheet

2019 Global Food Policy Report: Media Factsheet

The below facts and figures can be of use for reporting on issues on the challenges and opportunities of rural revitalization. The 2019 Global Food Policy Report highlights the urgency of rural revitalization to address the crisis in rural areas. Polic…

'The country could fall apart': drought and despair in Afghanistan

By Rebecca Ratcliffe in Herat from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Mar 25, 2019.

As a funding appeal languishes, conflict, poverty and the worst drought for a decade have left millions facing desperate hunger

Shafiqa watches closely over her six-month-old niece. Lying on a bundle of fabric, Maryam’s legs jut out, thin and pale. When they arrived at hospital two weeks ago, she could hardly breathe. Her body was swollen with malnutrition, her lips and fingers were blue.

There are 24 children being treated at Mofleh paediatric hospital’s malnutrition ward, on the outskirts of Herat city, western Afghanistan. Mothers and aunts lean next to hospital beds, some rocking tiny babies back and forth.

Related: 'Chilling reality': Afghanistan suffers worst floods in seven years

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2019 Global Food Policy Report: Crises in Rural Areas Threatens Progress in Hunger, Poverty Reduction; Urgent Need for Rural Revitalization, Strong Policies and Accountability

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Mar 22, 2019.

Mar 27, 2019
Press Release

2019 Global Food Policy Report: Crises in Rural Areas Threatens Progress in Hunger, Poverty Reduction; Urgent Need for Rural Revitalization, Strong Policies and Accountability

Washington, D.C.: Marked by deepening cycle of hunger and malnutrition, persistent poverty, limited economic opportunities, and environmental degradation, rural areas continue to be in a state of crisis in many parts of the world, threatening to slow t…

World's food supply under 'severe threat' from loss of biodiversity

By Jonathan Watts Global environment editor from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Feb 21, 2019.

Plants, insects and organisms crucial to food production in steep decline, says UN

The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates.

The stark warning was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation after scientists found evidence the natural support systems that underpin the human diet are deteriorating around the world as farms, cities and factories gobble up land and pump out chemicals.

Related: The way we eat is killing us – and the planet | Felicity Lawrence

Related: Climate change driving up malnutrition rates in Pacific, UN warns

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How the vegan food trend made a star of the pungent jackfruit

By Michael Safi from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Feb 16, 2019.

The easy-to-grow crop has the potential to be much more than just a fashionable alternative to meat in the west

Lush, densely forested Kerala, the exuberantly green south Indian state sometimes called “God’s own country”, is exactly the kind of place you would expect to produce a superfood. It just wouldn’t be the jackfruit.

Covered in spikes and emitting a stench of rotting onions, jackfruit can balloon to an ungainly 45kg, and its inside is coated in a thick gum that stains axes, machetes or whatever heavy-duty tool is employed to attack its leathery shell.

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Supermarkets say Brexit could empty shelves. That's a risk they chose to run | Andrew Simms

By Andrew Simms from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jan 31, 2019.

The big retailers’ business model has made food shortages more likely in the event of a no-deal Brexit

“The shops will be empty” and “the lights will go out” are the staple warnings of commercial interests that have an axe to grind or are looking for public support. But the letter this week from store bosses sounding an alert about the impact of a no-deal Brexithas added irony when delivered by some of Britain’s biggest supermarket retailers, whose centralised business model has done much to hollow out the economy, making it so vulnerable in the first place.

Related: No-deal Brexit would mean shortages and price rises, say retailers

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The miracle method for sustainable rice – and bigger harvests | John Vidal

By John Vidal in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jan 30, 2019.

A technique developed by a Jesuit priest is producing bumper crops – and reducing emissions of a grain responsible for 1.5% of greenhouse gases

The fragrant jasmine rice growing on the left side of Kreaougkra Junpeng’s five-acre field stands nearly five feet tall.

Each plant has 15 or more tillers, or stalks, and the grains hang heavy from them. The Thai farmer says this will be his best-ever harvest in 30 years and he will reap it four weeks earlier than usual.

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‘It’s God’s plan’: the man who dreams of bringing intensive chicken farming to Africa

By John Vidal from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Dec 27, 2018.

A US mega-farm, a Christian backer and Africa’s oldest industrial chicken producer are bringing the world’s super birds to reform central Africa’s food market and feed the poor

On the evening of 7 August 2018, a KLM charter flight left Amsterdam, landing 11 hours later at Kilimanjaro airport in northern Tanzania. Its young occupants were nodded through immigration and driven 50 miles to their new home, close to some of Africa’s most famous game parks.

These were no tourists hoping to see lions in the nearby Serengeti. The 2,320 little cockerels and 17,208 hens on the plane were a flock of European-bred pedigree Cobb 500 chickens, the world’s most popular breed. Their destination: a remote 200-hectare mega-farm under construction in the windy foothills of snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro.

There are probably far more Cobb 500s alive than there are humans

Irvine’s $20m farm and hatchery in Dar es Salaam

From top left: young Cobb chicks drink from a mechanical water dispenser; each room contains about 9,000 birds; herding chicks to keep them from crowding in groups; repairing the mechanical chicken feeder

Locally grown chickens in a market in Arusha, Tanzania

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'This is hell': devastated Congolese village embodies country's crisis

By Jason Burke in Cianciamka from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Dec 19, 2018.

Wracked by disease and hunger, and forgotten by the state, survivors of a rebel raid on Cianciamka struggle to survive

At the end of the gravel road is a dirt track. At the end of the track is a muddy trail leading through the scrub. At the end of the trail is the village – or, more accurately, the place where the village was before the rebels came.

There was little warning, just shouts and shots shortly after dawn. Most of the thousand or so inhabitants of Cianciamka grabbed their children, a spoon and a cooking pot and escaped into the forest. Some were too slow and were killed, or forcibly enlisted as fighters and porters.

Related: The 10 places in crisis the world chooses to ignore – in pictures

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Invest in Africa's youth before migration to Europe doubles, says UN official

By Hannah Summers from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Dec 05, 2018.

With continent’s population set to soar, agriculture chief Gilbert Houngbo stresses need to make rural life profitable

Economic migration from Africa to Europe driven by poverty could double in the next decade unless urgent investment is made in job creation for young people in rural areas, the head of a UN financial body has warned.

The global population is forecast to reach 9.9 billion by 2050 – a 29% increase – with most of that growth in Africa, where the population is expected to double to 2.6 billion.

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Take back control – could self-sufficiency be the answer to a no-deal Brexit?

By Rebecca Schiller from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Dec 03, 2018.

I moved with my husband and kids to rural Kent to try to grow our own food to alleviate even the harshest crisis next year. Unfortunately, crops are as complicated as the latest withdrawal agreement

In January 2017, my husband, Jared, and I moved our family from a semi in Ramsgate to a ramshackle house in rural Kent that came with two acres of mud. Our desire for change was born of the political, social and environmental turmoil. There was certainly a naive pursuit of the good life, but we were also reeling from the outcome of the Brexit referendum and feeling sick about Trump’s presidency. We needed a personal survival plan.

In the face of a world shifting in a direction we could no longer understand, predict or rely on (and despite having no practical skills or experience), we sought a shared vocation that was less tied to systems and structures that appeared to be wobbling. We planned to grow and raise some of our own food and – as wildfires, floods and landslides hinted at the impact of climate change – move towards a more sustainable way of life. It felt like a personal resistance that would be good for our family life and physical and mental health, as well as teaching us new skills.

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Fracking industry advances with phase one exploratory applications in South Africa

By SusanClark from News. Published on Oct 20, 2017.

Fracking industry advances with phase one exploratory applications in South Africa
SusanClark 20th October 2017
Teaser Media

What the closure of a small Suffolk factory says about the future of the automotive industry

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 30, 2017.

What the closure of a small Suffolk factory says about the future of the automotive industry
brendan 30th August 2017
Teaser Media

Digging yourself a hole: how Australia is keeping coal current

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 30, 2017.

Digging yourself a hole: how Australia is keeping coal current
brendan 30th August 2017
Teaser Media

How a circular economy can help prevent a global water crisis

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 29, 2017.

How a circular economy can help prevent a global water crisis
brendan 29th August 2017
Teaser Media

Is Hurricane Harvey a harbinger for America’s future?

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 29, 2017.

Is Hurricane Harvey a harbinger for America’s future?
brendan 29th August 2017
Teaser Media

New report says electric cars will dramatically improve Britain's energy security

By SusanClark from News. Published on Aug 25, 2017.

New report says electric cars will dramatically improve Britain's energy security
SusanClark 25th August 2017
Teaser Media

Climate change could tarnish the flavour of cava, study suggests

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 23, 2017.

Climate change could tarnish the flavour of cava, study suggests
brendan 23rd August 2017
Teaser Media

How to win the climate wars – talk about local ‘pollution’ not global warming

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 23, 2017.

How to win the climate wars – talk about local ‘pollution’ not global warming
brendan 23rd August 2017
Teaser Media

Ecologist Special Report: The Al Hima Revival

By SusanClark from News. Published on Aug 22, 2017.

Ecologist Special Report: The Al Hima Revival
SusanClark 22nd August 2017
Teaser Media

Dealing with climate migration: 'what matters are our actions'

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 21, 2017.

Dealing with climate migration: 'what matters are our actions'
brendan 21st August 2017
Teaser Media

Fin del Mandato: Una mirada retrospectiva y prospectiva

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Jun 04, 2014.

[3 de junio de 2014] GINEBRA – El 30 de mayo, Olivier De Schutter finalizó su segundo mandato como Relator Especial de Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la alimentación. Olivier asumió el cargo el 1 de mayo de 2008 y su mandato fue renovado por otros tres años en 2011.

Unhealthy diets greater threat to health than tobacco; UN expert calls for global regulation

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on May 19, 2014.

[19 May 2014] GENEVA – The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, called today for a new global agreement to regulate unhealthy diets.

Governments should use public purse to ‘buy justice’ in food systems – UN right to food expert

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on May 15, 2014.

[15 May 2014] GENEVA – Governments must exploit the full potential of public food purchasing in order to make food systems fairer and more sustainable, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, urged Thursday.

La democracia y la diversidad pueden subsanar sistemas alimentarios rotos

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Mar 09, 2014.

[10 de marzo de 2014] GINEBRA – El Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la alimentación, Olivier De Schutter, hizo hoy un llamamiento para que se rediseñen de forma radical y democrática los sistemas alimentarios mundiales de forma que garanticen el derecho humano a una alimentación adecuada y el derecho fundamental de toda persona a no padecer hambre.

Registration opens for landmark conference on the transition to sustainable societies: EU5P

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Jan 28, 2014.

[29 January 2014] BRUSSELS – Olivier De Schutter is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Francqui International Conference on "Europe's Fifth Project" (EU5P), taking place on 8-9 May 2014 at the Palais des Académies in Brussels. Those interested in attending are invited to consult the full programme, which is now available.

UN right to food expert: “As Malaysia rises to ‘high-income status’, it must focus on the most vulnerable”

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Dec 17, 2013.

[18 December 2013] KUALA LUMPUR – “As it moves towards becoming a high-income country, Malaysia must ensure that growth is not achieved at the expense of the environment and the rights of vulnerable groups in society, such as the indigenous communities and migrant workers,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said today at the end of his first official visit to the country.

“Bali package must allow ambitious food security policies” – UN expert on WTO Summit

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Dec 02, 2013.

GENEVA (2 December 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, today called for developing countries to be granted the freedom to use food reserves to help secure the right to food, without the threat of sanctions under current World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The EU's Fifth Project: Transitional Governance in the Service of Sustainable Societies

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Nov 19, 2013.

[19 November 2013] BRUSSELS – "We need alternatives to GDP growth as the goal of public policy, and we need alternatives to work and wealth accumulation as the driving forces in our lives. A genuine transition in the way we live is the only true path to sustainability. But it must be accompanied by a transition in the way we govern. This is Europe’s fifth project.”

UN expert praises Africa’s commitment to “the right to adequate food”

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Oct 30, 2013.

[30 October 2013] GENEVA – The African Union is sending an important signal by using this year’s Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (Africa Day) to buttress the concept of the “right to adequate food” as an organizing framework for policies and strategies to address food and nutrition insecurity in Africa.

"El derecho a la alimentación ya no es un derecho olvidado" – el Relator Especial de la ONU elogia una década de progreso

By (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Oct 24, 2013.

[25 de octubre de 2013] NEW YORK / GINEBRA – En su informe final ante la Asamblea General de la ONU, el Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho a la Alimentación, Olivier De Schutter, ha acogido con satisfacción "el resurgimiento de los derechos" que ha podido seguir atentamente en todo el mundo durante la última década.

Desarrollando una nueva teoría de escalamiento

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jul 11, 2019.

¿Cómo podemos estimular la adopción de prácticas, tecnologías e información sobre la Agricultura Sostenible Adaptada al Clima (ASAC) para apoyar una transición hacia una agricultura más sostenible bajo las nuevas realidades del cambio climático?

Científicos del Programa de Investigación de CGIAR en Cambio Climático, Agricultura y Seguridad Alimentaria (CCAFS) han conceptualizado e implementado la escala de las intervenciones ASAC de varias maneras, intentando superar los desafíos conceptuales, metodológicos y prácticos. Esto no ha sido fácil, como se puede aprender del nuevo documento de trabajo 'Climate-smart-agriculture: in need of a theory of scaling' que examine críticamente cómo CCAFS ha teorizado sobre escalamiento aplicado en la práctica.

Desde el inicio del programa CCAFS, los agricultores e investigadores han trabajado juntos en todo el mundo para probar las prácticas y tecnologías ASAC a pequeña escala en los llamados Territorios Sostenibles Adaptados al Clima (TeSAC). Se esperaba que estas soluciones locales pudieran escalarse, a través del apoyo de diferentes mecanismos financieros e institucionales, a muchos más agricultores a adoptar las prácticas ASAC.

Vías de escalamiento

En términos generales, se han utilizado dos mecanismos de escalamiento: horizontal y vertical. En el escalamiento horizontal, las prácticas ASAC comprobadas en uno o más TeSAC se transfieren de agricultor a agricultor y se promueve una mayor adopción a través de políticas, programas y proyectos. En el escalamiento vertical, los logros de la investigación y las lecciones aprendidas sobre las prácticas ASAC en los TeSAC se transfieren directamente a los tomadores de decisiones con el objetivo de influir en las políticas o lograr cambios institucionales. 

Estas dos vías de escalamiento se ven muy sencillas en el papel, pero en la práctica, los procesos de implementación están lejos de ser lineales, funcionales y de responder al enfoque de ofertas (de prácticas ASAC). El documento de trabajo proporciona una revisión detallada de los métodos, herramientas y mecanismos de escalamiento de CCAFS utilizados en las vías horizontales y verticales, entre los que se incluyen: fondos comunitarios, análogos, campañas en los medios, estrategias de desarrollo de capacidades, creación de alianzas y el uso de diferentes plataformas.

“Hasta la fecha, los investigadores de CCAFS parecen haber hecho uso de una visión demasiado simplista del escalamiento (un enfoque simple, lineal y orientado a la oferta) que ignora el hecho de que el desarrollo, la adopción y la adaptación de las tecnologías ASAC son parte de un proceso social y político incrustado en configuraciones y procesos sociales más amplios”, comenta Ronnie Vernooy, uno de los autores del documento de trabajo.

Es importante tomar en consideración que el escalamiento está influenciado por las competencias existentes, los conflictos y las luchas por los recursos, como la tierra, el capital, las semillas y el conocimiento. Para crear formas innovadoras de escalamiento serán necesarias nuevas formas de acción colectiva, coordinación y cooperación. 

Diferentes estrategias

Por lo tanto, el documento de trabajo recomienda "desarrollar una teoría más coherente de escalamiento basada en la sociología, las ciencias políticas y los estudios de género", ofreciendo algunos elementos para el desarrollo de dicha teoría. Por ejemplo, para distinguir un camino a escalar o una fase de diseño, una respuesta a escala o fase de cambio, y una fase de evaluación. En las tres fases, la interacción, la colaboración y la convergencia con y entre los socios durante el escalamiento son esenciales.

Los investigadores recomiendan que más allá de intervenciones escalables lo que se necesitan son diseños de escalamiento que puedan ser utilizados en situaciones específicas del contexto por grupos que estén interesados y comprometidos a trabajar hacia objetivos comunes. Y que, en lugar de optar por una única estrategia, se podrían incluir múltiples estrategias de escalamiento complementarias.

Más información:

Developing a more coherent theory of scaling

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jul 11, 2019.

How can we stimulate the adoption of practices, technologies and information on climate-smart agriculture (CSA) to support a transition to a more sustainable agriculture under the new realities of climate change?

Researchers of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) have conceptualized and implemented the scaling of CSA interventions in a number of ways, attempting to overcome conceptual, methodological and practical challenges. This has not been easy, as can be learnt from the new working paper 'Climate-smart-agriculture: in need of a theory of scaling' that critically examines how CCAFS has theorized about and applied scaling in practice. 

Since the start of the CCAFS programme, farmers and researchers have worked together across the world to test CSA practices and technologies on a small scale in Climate-Smart Villages (CSV). It was expected that these local solutions could be scaled through the support of different financial and institutional mechanisms, leading to many more farmers adopting CSA practices.

Scaling pathways

Broadly speaking, two scaling mechanisms have been used: horizontal and vertical. In horizontal scaling, proven CSA practices in one or more CSVs are transferred from farmer to farmer and further uptake is promoted through policies, programs and projects. In vertical scaling, research achievements and lessons learned about CSA practices in CSVs are transferred directly to key decision-makers with the aim to influence policies or achieve institutional changes. 

Both these scaling pathways look straightforward on paper, but in practice, implementation processes are far from linear, functional and responsive to the requirements for implementing CSA practices. The working paper provides a detailed review of CCAFS methods, tools and scaling mechanisms used in horizontal and vertical pathways, among which are: community funds, climate analogues, media campaigns, capacity development strategies, alliance building and the use of different platforms.

“To date, CCAFS researchers seem to have made use of a sometimes overly simplistic view of scaling, that is, a simple, linear, supply driven approach, ignoring the fact that technology development, adoption and adaptation are part of social and political processes embedded in larger societal configurations”, observes Ronnie Vernooy, one of the authors of the working paper.

It is important to take into consideration that scaling is influenced by existing competition, conflicts and struggles for resources, such as land, capital, seeds and knowledge. To create innovative forms of scaling, new forms of collective action, coordination and cooperation will be necessary.

Different strategies 

Therefore the working paper recommends to “develop a more coherent theory of scaling informed by sociology, political science and gender studies", offering some elements for the development of such scaling theory. One recommendation is to distinguish a path to scale or design phase, a response to scale or change phase, and an evaluation phase. In all three phases, interaction, collaboration and convergence with and among scaling partners are essential.

The researchers recommend that beyond scalable interventions there need to be replicable design principles that can be used in context-specific situations by groups that are interested and committed to work toward common goals. In that case, instead of opting for a single strategy, multiple complementary scaling strategies could be included.

Read more:

Participación: clave para la creación de nuevos sistemas agrícolas

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jul 01, 2019.

Con los desafíos que ha traído el cambio climático a la agricultura, la Agricultura Sostenible Adaptada al Clima (ASAC) como posible solución, se ha visto en la necesidad de construir sistemas agrícolas innovadores para favorecer las sinergias entre adaptación, mitigación y un crecimiento sostenible de la productividad.

Construir espacios que promuevan la interacción entre los agricultores y los actores que sostienen los sistemas agrícolas, se convierte en uno de los puntos clave para facilitar el cambio y hacer posible la innovación a través de procesos participativos que les permitan diseñar y adoptar prácticas para hacerle frente al cambio climático. 

En un nuevo artículo científico, investigadores del Programa de Investigación de CGIAR en Cambio Climático, Agricultura y Seguridad Alimentaria (CCAFS), presentan una nueva metodología para co-diseñar sistemas agrícolas junto a actores clave que les permita alcanzar un escalamiento más amplio.

Este artículo se basa en las lecciones aprendidas durante una investigación participativa llevada a cabo en Honduras y Colombia, financiado por CCAFS, Fontagro y la Fundación Agropolis.

Este nuevo método consta de siete pasos para involucrarse en un proceso de co-diseño de sistemas agrícolas adaptados al clima que podrían permitir la implementación a escala:

Paso 1 - Exploración de la situación inicial Identifica a actores clave locales potencialmente interesados en participar en el proceso, sistemas agrícolas existentes y limitaciones específicas para la implementación de la Agricultura Sostenible Adaptada al Clima (ASAC)
Paso 2 – Co-definición de una plataforma de innovación Define la estructura y las reglas de funcionamiento de una plataforma que favorece la participación de los actores locales en el proceso
Paso 3 - Diagnóstico compartido Define los principales desafíos que debe resolver la plataforma de innovación
Paso 4 - Identificación y evaluación ex ante de nuevos sistemas de cultivo Evalúan los rendimientos potenciales de soluciones priorizadas por los miembros de la plataforma de innovación bajo los pilares ASAC
Paso 5 - Experimentación Prueba las soluciones priorizadas en la granja
Paso 6 - Evaluación del proceso de co-diseño de sistemas agrícolas adaptados al clima Valida la capacidad del proceso para alcanzar sus objetivos iniciales, particularmente en términos de nuevos sistemas agrícolas, pero también en términos de creación de capacidad
Paso 7 - Definición de estrategias para ampliar / reducir Aborda el escalamiento del proceso de co-diseño

Esta metodología les permitirá a los agricultores co-diseñar y adoptar sistemas agrícolas ASAC para abordar los efectos del cambio climático a través de una plataforma de innovación abierta, esto significa definir participativamente los sistemas de cultivo y ganadería e incluirlos en las fincas con las prácticas de manejo asociadas. Al mismo tiempo, trata de abordar la especificidad de un proceso destinado a diseñar sistemas agrícolas adaptados al clima al reducir las compensaciones entre los tres pilares de la ASAC.

“Dichas concesiones pueden surgir a nivel de finca cuando las prácticas de priorización abordan un pilar y no los otros" (Torquebiau et al. 2018). También pueden surgir en diferentes etapas del proceso de producción y transformación cuando se aplican buenas prácticas de CSA, pero sin considerar las emisiones que pueden ocurrir al transformar tales productos. "Estas compensaciones también pueden ocurrir a nivel de agroecosistema cuando, por ejemplo, la disminución de las emisiones de Gases Efecto Invernadero se realiza a expensas de otros impactos ambientales”, explica Nadine Andrieu, la autora principal del estudio.


El co-diseño de sistemas agrícolas adaptados al clima requiere de cambios en el conocimiento, cambios técnicos y a nivel institucional pues todo hace parte de un proceso multidimensional y complejo que requiere de un enfoque participativo y de sistemas donde la plataforma de innovación se convierte en el núcleo del proceso. En esta plataforma, se debe tener claro los actores clave que la conforman, sus roles y los objetivos acordados comúnmente.

“La generación de conocimiento local y científico es un factor clave para identificar soluciones adecuadas para enfrentar el cambio climático, garantizar que el proceso esté en el camino correcto y convencer a los nuevos interesados de ampliar o mejorar sus resultados”, concluye Nadine Andrieu.

Más información: 

Participation: key to the creation of new farming systems

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jul 01, 2019.

With the challenges that climate change has brought to agriculture, climate-smart agriculture (CSA)a possible solutionhas seen the need to build innovative farming systems favoring synergies between adaptation, mitigation and sustainable increase in productivity. 

Building spaces that promote interaction among farmers and the actors that support farming systems, becomes one of the key points to facilitate change and make innovation possible through participatory processes that allow them to design and adopt practices that can address climate change.

In a new journal article, researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), present a new methodology to co-design farming systems with key actors that allow them to reach a higher scale. This article is based on the lessons learnt during a participatory research carried out in Honduras and Colombia funded by CCAFS, Fontagro and the Agropolis Fondation.

This new method consists of seven steps to get involved in a process of co-designing climate-smart farming systems that could allow implementation at scale:

Step 1 - Exploration of the initial situation Identifies local stakeholders potentially interested in being involved in the process, existing farming systems, and specific constraints to the implementation of climate-smart agriculture
Step 2 – Co-definition of an innovation platform Defines the structure and the rules of functioning for a platform favoring the involvement of local stakeholders in the process
Step 3 - Shared diagnosis Defines the main challenges to be solved by the innovation platform
Step 4 - Identification and ex ante assessment of new farming systems Assess the potential performances of solutions prioritized by the members of the innovation platform under CSA pillars
Step 5 - Experimentation Tests the prioritized solutions on-farm
Step 6 - Assessment of the co-design process of climate-smart farming systems Validates the ability of the process to reach its initial objectives, particularly in terms of new farming systems but also in terms of capacity building
Step 7 - Definition of strategies for scaling up/out Addresses the scaling of the co-design process

This methodology will allow farmers to co-design and adopt CSA farming systems in order to address the effects of climate change through an open innovation platform. This involves defining participatory cropping and livestock systems and including them in their farms with the associated management practices. At the same time, it seeks to address the specification of a process intended to design climate-smart farming systems by reducing the trade-offs between the three pillars of CSA.

“Such trade-offs may arise at the farm level when prioritizing practices address one pillar and not the others'' (Torquebiau et al. 2018). They may also arise at different steps of the production and transformation process when good CSA practices are applied without considering emissions that may occur when transforming such products. "These trade-offs may also occur at the agroecosystem level when, for example, the decrease in GHG emissions is made at the expense of other environmental impacts”, explains Nadine Andrieu, the lead author of the article.


The co-design of climate-smart farming systems requires technical changes and changes to the institutional environment, since everything is part of a multidimensional and complex process that requires a participatory approach and systems where the innovation platform becomes the core of the process. In this platform, it’s necessary to be clear about the key actors that comprise it, their roles and the commonly agreed objectives.

“Generating local and scientific knowledge is a key factor to identify appropriate solutions to tackle climate change, ensure that the process is on the right track, and convince new stakeholders of scaling out/up their results”, concludes Nadine Andrieu.

Read more:

Re-assessing the impact assessment of global climate change

By Sakshi Saini from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jun 18, 2019.

Read any daily newspaper or follow any news channels, you will surely stumble upon a piece on emerging technology. Each passing day, millennials are being exposed to new innovations, from Elon Musks’ Space X, or machine-learning tools based in the cloud, fostering Artificial Intelligence (AI). As a major factor behind rapid change in lifestyles, technological advancements are making a mark on the ‘information age’. With technological advancement playing such an enormous role in shaping our future, isn’t it imperative to consider technological growth while conducting impact assessments of climate change on agriculture? Or have we just assumed that the impact of climate change will be immune to technological growth?

A recent study conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), strives to address some of these concerns.

The study carries out a systematic global review and compares published projections of climate change impacts from 34 studies for the 2020s for maize, rice and wheat at country level with observed and forecasted national crop yields for the same period based on available global crop statistics. Large discrepancies were observed between actual yield changes of 2016 and projected yield changes of 2020. Much to our comfort, the actual yield losses were substantially lower than the projected yield loses. For instance, the projected yield loss without adaptation and technology was calculated as (minus) 9%, but in fact the observed yield shows a steep increase of +106%.

What are the reasons for this discrepancy? In part, technological improvements appear to have a large yield-enhancing impact compared with the negative effects of climate change, at least in the short term. Confidence in this statement arises from the yield change projections made by International Food Policy Research Institution (IFPRI), which consider technology growth. These projections (+87%) are more in line with the observed yield change (+106%).  

Caveats to climate change impact assessment

Highlighting the importance of technology growth as an important factor to be considered while conducting impact assessments of climate change, Pramod Aggarwal, CCAFS South Asia Regional Program Leader and lead author of the paper, said, “most assessments of climate change impacts on crop yields show low-latitude, low and middle-income countries as highly vulnerable, but these countries have shown the largest growth in observed yields over the same reference time period. One of the prime reasons for these discrepancies is incomplete consideration of technological growth in climate impact assessments”. Uncertainties associated with the methodologies used, and regional variations in adaptation options, further add to the incongruities.  

As the world upholds technological advancement, understanding and making explicit assumptions about technology and technological change in impact assessment of climate change is increasingly important. Climate change in isolation will surely decrease the worlds’ food security, though its impacts will be different depending upon adaptation levels in different places. Technology growth is further enhancing this adaptive capacity. Thus, linking impact assessments to an improved understanding of likely future technological changes and their enabling mechanism is crucial for predicting future impacts accurately. Shalika Vyas, Research Consultant for CCAFS and co-author of the paper, reiterates the importance of integrated impact assessment: "Impact assessments have triggered global climate action. Including likely technological change will make these assessments even more useful for future predictions and scaling-up of much needed adaptation efforts”.

Read more:

Will climate change make us go hungry by 2050?

By Sakshi Saini from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jun 07, 2019.

May it be a lawsuit filed by 21 young plaintiffs against the United States or the call for a Green New Deal, masses are demanding for concrete action to curb climate change. The world is rallying together for climate action, from school strikes to public awareness campaigns. In the recently released BBC programme “Climate Change - The facts”, Sir David Attenborough highlights the future crisis the world will face if climate change is not tackled. With climate change threatening human existence, this uproar is very well understood; especially when humankind is already struggling for survival due to the lack of resources.  

Globally, 844 million people lack access to clean water and around 821 million people in the world still lack sufficient food to live a dignified life. Unequal distribution of resources, social constraints, governance challenges and political limitations further add to this plight. In the future, vulnerabilities in agricultural production will exacerbate due to climatic changes. Warming temperature, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are expected to reduce food production, while rising population will put pressure on the agricultural sector to meet the food demand of the world.  

To better understand these vulnerabilities and streamline climate action, scientists have been trying to quantify this vulnerability of agriculture to climate change through impact assessments, since the 1980s. Periodic release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have generated huge public interest and influenced policies globally. Many research studies have proliferated since then, quantifying projected climate impacts on agriculture at diverse spatial scales, using various climate and crop models.

Is adaptation a game changer?

A recent publication has comprehensively summarized this large body of workdone over last 40 yearsfor the most consumed cereals globally (wheat, rice and maize), with important takeaways for food security. The authors analyzed more than 150 studies published since the 1980s, using meta-analysis technique. The results, highlighting high impacts of climate change on the productivity of rice, wheat and maize, with respective area-weighted global losses reaching up to minus 12%, minus 15% and minus 20% by 2080s, are pressing enough to rally the world to move towards adaptive measures.

Adaptive measures such as change in planting date, cultivating improved variety, increased nutrient and water application are known to dramatically decrease the negative impacts of climate change. The results after adaptation point out a much smaller net reduction in the productivity loss of rice (-6%), wheat (-4%) and maize (-13%) by 2080, if adaptive measures are employed. Adaptation also brings a level playing field for tropics and developing regions, by equalizing the impacts from climate change across different regions.

What does this mean for future food security?

Implemented adaptive measures will lessen productivity losses. However, the paradox might be that global reduction in projected climate impacts after adaptation may invite complacency on the part of nation’s food security policies. It is crucial to understand that even such small impacts may have a disruptive effect on the global food supply. To underline this, the article identified global hotspots of potential food insecurity, by analyzing projected future food demand for the 2050s along with the national food supply. Consequently, most of Africa, South and Central Asia, along with temperate countries in South America and Scandinavia were found to be vulnerable due to both food production gap and the projected negative impacts of climate change.

These regions have immense food security problems. They have a two-fold crisis: a) their growth rate of food production already lags behind the projected demand and b) future climate change will further disrupt their food supply.”

Pramod Aggarwal, Regional Program Team Leader, CCAFS

Figure 1: Hotspots of climate change based on assessments of impacts after adaptation on crop yield at country scale for the 2050s and the food production gap (the difference between 2050 food demand and current food supply)

Where are we headed?

Impact assessments on agriculture underline the considerable potential of adaptation in moderating the negative effects of climate change. However, these processes are hard to implement and come with a cost. 

These adaptation strategies are constrained by the economic, institutional and ecological costs involved. Massive science-guided investments and policy support is required to scale-out adaptation globally. Pathways to sustainable development like climate-smart agriculture may prove to be a more viable alternative than intensive agricultural practices.”

Bruce Campbell, Program Director, CCAFS

Read more:

How will climate change impact rangelands in the next few decades?

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jun 03, 2019.

There is considerable uncertainty regarding the effects of climate change on rangelands, not only because of uncertainty in future climate projections but also because of limitations to current knowledge of some of the key interactions between climatic, atmospheric and biological variables. 

Possible future system changes

We undertook a tentative analysis to see if ‘hotspots of change’ could be identified in the global rangelands, along with possible responses.

Projected changes in aboveground live biomass in the rangelands for the 2050s categorised into 10 combinations of population, access and precipitation CV (see footnotes to the table below for details).

We categorised the rangelands into 10, based on combinations of human population in 2050 for Shared Socio-Economic Pathway 2 (‘Middle of the Road’) (Murakami and Yamagata 2016); market access in terms of travel time to the nearest city of 50,000 inhabitants or more in 2000 (Nelson 2008); and the coefficient of variation of precipitation, estimated for the 2050s using an empirical relationship between annual rainfall and rainfall CV (Jurkovic and Pasaric 2013). Here we assume climate stationarity to the 2050s, which may well not be the case, although no change in this relationship was found over the second half of the twentieth century (Jurkovic and Pasaric 2013). These 10 categories are mapped in the figure, and characterised in the table below in terms of projections of their aboveground live biomass changes to 2050s, using an ensemble of seven climate models, RCP 8.5 (a high emissions scenario), and the dynamic rangeland model G-Range (Boone et al. 2018). While the ensemble mean biomass changes to the 2050s are projected to be positive for each category, there is considerable spatial variability in these biomass changes; these are explored in the Boone et al. (2018) paper.

The table also includes a qualitative assessment of possible responses in each category. For example, category 1 is characterised by low population density, good market accessibility (a livestock keeper being able to travel to the market and back within one day), and low rainfall variability. In this category, modest increases in aboveground live biomass are projected to the middle of the century, although there may be significant spatial variation. In such places (parts of southern-central USA, SE Brazil, and parts of the African humid tropics, for instance), non-livestock-based livelihoods may well be possible, as well as specialisation in, and intensification of, production. There are likely to be fewer options for places in category 8 (parts of central Australia, much of the Sahara, and NE China, for instance): low population densities, far from markets, with high annual rainfall variability; percentage changes in live biomass may be large, but the baseline is very low. In such places, the provision of social safety nets will be the priority, or livelihoods not based on livestock. Interestingly, a large proportion of category 9 sites are located across the wetter zones of West and East Africa (medium populations, close to urban markets, with low rainfall variability), suggesting that there may be substantial opportunities for intensification, diversification, and specialisation of land use in some of these areas.

Enablers of change and the unpredictability of the future

A key question is whether change in agricultural systems to the middle of the century is in any way predictable, allowing technological, informational, and policy interventions and investments to be targeted at the relatively small scales appropriate to addressing local context. In our chapter, we discussed this in relation to three overlapping enablers (or dis-enablers) of change: governance, economics, and innovation.

  • Governance: The vulnerability of pastoralists to global change is particularly affected by property and grazing rights. While government protection of proprietary rights can reduce conflict between communities over natural resources, this protection needs to be unbiased rather than producing assymetries between pastoralist groups. Identifying the winners and losers from changes in land ownership and use of pastoral lands in the coming decades is a key challenge for the research agenda.
  • Economics: In many pastoral systems, cash transfers from social protection programmes and remittances from pastoralists who migrate out of pastoral areas for wage labour in towns and cities will become increasingly important.
  • Innovation: Innovations in collaborative governance, such as community-based rangeland management, hold out promise for achieving socially just, economically viable and environmentally sustainable management of rangelands and the biodiversity they support.

Regarding the predictability of systems’ change, the uncertainities are very large, even as the rate of change accelerates. There is a need for more analyses that could contribute subtantially to increased understanding of the impacts of key change drivers in the rangelands, thereby improving the targeting of appropriate technological and policy-related interventions.

From Boone et al. 2018, showing mean and spatial standard deviation for baseline in 2000, and projected change into 2050 based on RCP 8.5 and production modified by increased CO2 concentration.

From Murakami and Yamagata 2016, for SSP 2 (‘middle of the road’) human population in 2050. Thresholds, in millions of people per km2 for categories Low, Mid, and High, were 0–0.163, 0.164–0.653, and 0.654 or greater.

Adapted from Nelson 2008, representing travel time to the nearest city of 50,000 or more in 2000. Thresholds, in minutes of travel time, used for categories Low, Mid, and High, were 0–200, 201–600, and greater than 600.

Calculated using a regression equation from Jurkovic and Pasaric 2013 and summed monthly precipitation from seven global circulation model results listed in Boone et al. 2018. Thresholds, in percent forecasted coefficient of variation for categories Low, Mid, and High, were 15.56–17.68, 17.69–21.92, and greater than 21.93.

Sixteen classes that included fewer than 1000 half-degree cells each (mean, 247 cells) were merged into this class.


Boone RB, Conant RT, Sircely J, Thornton PK, Herrero M. Climate change impacts on selected global rangeland ecosystem services. Global Change Biology. 2018;24(3):1382–93.

Jurkovic RS, Pasaric Z. Spatial variability of annual precipitation using globally gridded data sets from 1951 to 2000. International Journal of Climatology. 2013;33(3):690–8.

Murakami D, Yamagata Y. Estimation of gridded population and GDP scenarios with spatially explicit statistical downscaling. arXiv preprint arXiv:161009041. 2016.

Nelson A. Estimated travel time to the nearest city of 50,000 or more people in year 2000. Global Environment Monitoring Unit–Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy. 2008.

This blog was originally posted on The Applied Ecologist's Blog.

Une demande de maïs 4 X supérieure face à la productivité en Afrique. Quelles implications pour le développement sobre en émissions?

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on May 23, 2019.

Une étude ménée au Burkina Faso, au Ghana, au Mali et au Nigeria (Afrique de l’Ouest), ainsi qu'en Éthiopie, au Kenya, en Tanzanie, en Ouganda et en Zambie (Afrique de l’Est) démontre que la production moyenne de 1,7 t / ha de maïs en 2010 atteindra 6,8 t / ha pour pouvoir répondre à la demande prévue en 2050. 

Pour atteindre cet objectif, la production de maïs par hectare doit augmenter d'environ 3,5% par an, un taux jamais observé aux échelles nationales ou supranationales dans le monde en ce qui concerne l'agriculture pluviale.

Les apports en éléments nutritifs correspondants doivent, quant à eux, augmenter de plus de 7% par an pour éviter un épuisement et une dégradation supplémentaires des sols.

Est-il possible d'augmenter le rendement? 

Notre réponse est un oui retentissant. À l'aide de Global Yield Atlas Gap, nous avons calculé un plafond de rendement moyen pluvial de 9,2 t / ha pour le maïs dans les neuf pays, les moyennes pondérées en fonction de la superficie variant de 6 t / ha en Tanzanie à plus de 12 t / ha en Éthiopie.

En moyenne, les rendements actuels du maïs représentent 20% du potentiel pluvial. Ils doivent augmenter à 75% du potentiel pluvial pour atteindre l'autosuffisance régionale d'ici à 2050.

Dans l'un de nos scénarios, nous faisons des interprétations selon lesquelles les pays concernés commercialisent le maïs en Afrique de l'Ouest ou de l'Est; et que le maïs remplacerait d’autres céréales dans l’alimentation dans les cas où leur production ne pourrait pas satisfaire la demande des consommateurs, comme le l'indique la figure ci-dessous. La gestion du maïs devra considérablement devenir de plus en plus efficace.

Scénario selon lequel les rendements de maïs ciblés et les besoins en intrants correspondants permettent d’atteindre l’autosuffisance en 2050 pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et l’Afrique de l’Est. (Adapté de la figure 4 dans ten Berge et al.

Rendements cibles et besoins minimaux en éléments nutritifs correspondants

Les techniques classiques de production de maïs dans la plupart des neuf pays sont de nature à appauvrir rapidement le sol. La demande alimentaire future ne fera qu'aggraver la situation. Selon les statistiques de la FAO, afin de pouvoir maintenir les rendements moyens de 2010, il faudra au moins trois fois plus d'apport en azote et en phosphore par rapport à ce qui est actuellement utilisé. Les apports moyens actuels en potassium sont négligeables et doivent augmenter fortement pour éviter un épuisement futur des sols.

La figure 4 de l'article, simplifiée ci-dessus, résume les rendements cibles pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest et de l'Est et les besoins en potassium correspondants. L'apport en Potassium requis varie en fonction du niveau d'efficacité de son utilisation. En minimisent les pertes en azote et assurent une bonne gestion des cultures, des sols et des éléments nutritifs de manière à améliorer la fertilité des sols au fil des années, les agriculteurs n’auront plus besoin que de la «quantité minimale d’azote» (indiquée en vert).

Cela suppose une efficacité d'utilisation élevée de l'azote d'environ 50 kg de grains par kg d'azote appliquéA défaut d'améliorer la fertilité des sols, cela augmentera les besoins en intrants annuels (en jaune)Actuellement, cependant, l'efficacité d'utilisation de l'azote est très faible, avec seulement 14 kg de grain par kg d'intrant d'azoteÀ ce stade, une quantité encore plus importante d'intrants serait nécessaire (en bleu), mais il est subsiste un doute quant à la possibilité d'atteindre un niveau de rendements cibles élevés sans une amélioration radicale de la gestion des sols et des cultures actuellePar conséquent, vue la gestion actuelle, ces taux élevés d'azote devraient être considérés comme inutiles.

Mesure d'émission de gaz à effet de serre

Nous sommes conscients du fait que  l'utilisation excessive d'engrais azotés occasionnent des coûts importants pour les agriculteurs et cause des problèmes environnementaux, notamment des émissions de gaz à effet de serre et la pollution de l'eau. Ceci n'est pas le cas en Afrique subsaharienne, où une utilisation insuffisante d'intrants agricoles entraîne des rendements médiocres, une perte de fertilité des sols et une dégradation des sols.

En Afrique subsaharienne, une utilisation accrue d’engrais azotés est associée à l'atteinte des objectifs de développement durable visant à éliminer la pauvreté et la faim. 

Notre objectif est d'identifier les besoins optimaux en nutriments et en engrais. Nous aspirons également à améliorer la gestion intégrée de la fertilité des sols afin de réaliser des gains de productivité tout en minimisant les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et autres impacts négatifs sur l'environnement.

Sans un investissement dans la fertilité du sol, les terres cultivées existantes se dégraderont davantage. Cela pourrait augmenter la pression pour la conversion des paysages naturels en terres cultivées, au détriment des immenses stocks de carbone et de la valeur de la biodiversité des terres naturelles.

Nous analysons actuellement les effets de l’utilisation accrue de nutriments sur les émissions de gaz à effet de serre. Ensuite, nous les comparerons aux émissions associées à la conversion de forêts et de paturages en terres cultivées.

Il est temps d'agir de mettre à l'échelle

Les agriculteurs, à eux seuls, ne peuvent pas atteindre des augmentations de productivité aussi ambitieuses. Ils ont besoin de politiques nationales et régionales favorables qui permettent une gestion intégrée rentable de la fertilité des sols. Par exemple, des infrastructure agricoles et des mécanismes financiers améliorés sont nécessaires pour garantir la disponibilité et l'accessibilité économique des intrants agricoles. Les gouvernements, les agences de développement et de vulgarisation ainsi que le secteur privé doivent intensifier leur soutien à la gestion des cultures et des sols ainsi  qu'à la gestion des risques qui y est associée. Leur action devrait s'étendre de la plantation (génotypes adaptés, semences traitées, préparation du sol en temps voulu et débit de semences approprié) à une croissance saine (lutte contre les mauvaises herbes et protection contre les parasites et les maladies), jusqu'aux technologies de récolte et post-récolte. Ils doivent également s'attaquer aux installations de stockage de céréales qui évitent les pertes post-récolte qui permettent aux agriculteurs de devenir compétitifs sur les marchés. 

Le Global Yield Gap Atlas contient des cartes et des données évaluant le potentiel de rendement de différentes cultures à l'aide de données météorologiques et pédologiques locales et de modèles de croissance des cultures validés aux niveaux locaux. Les ressources et les méthodes décrites dans notre étude peuvent être appliquées à d’autres pays pour affiner les objectifs de rendement et les besoins en éléments nutritifs de plusieurs cultures clés. De même, au lieu de recourir à des extrapolations, les chercheurs peuvent utiliser les mécanismes et hypothèses explicites disponibles dans Global Yield Gap Atlas pour améliorer les études d'évaluation intégrées (à l'aide de modèles tels qu'IMPACT, IMAGE, etc.). 

En savoir davantage:

Policies of hope: Promoting climate resilient technologies

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on May 09, 2019.

Lush green farms of paddy or wheat, although a much-desired scenery for an agrarian economy like India, are one of the prime causes of increased vulnerability in the agricultural sector. This irony arises from their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which in turn increases the likelihood of warming temperature, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events. These changes in turn directly impact agricultural systems.

This two-way relationship, where agricultural activities contribute to climate change and climate change in turn adversely impacts agricultural production and farmers’ income, has also been recognized by the Paris Agreement. In the agreement, as part of a mitigation strategy, agricultural emissions are proposed to be curtailed, while agricultural adaptation mechanisms are promoted to enhance adaptive capacities and ensure sustained food production. To fulfil this twin role, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has emerged as an inevitability for India where more than 20% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Ray of hope

India, being a developing country, has not made any commitments to the Conference of the Parties (COP) on reducing its agricultural GHG emissions. Yet, its agricultural policies over the last few years have been striving to enhance the resilience of agriculture to climate change.

A recent analysis of nine agricultural policies in India, conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) as a part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), points out that the Government of India (GoI) has been inadvertently spending 15% of the total agricultural expenditure on climate-smart agriculture. The government of India unintentionally committed an investment of 12.12 billion USD between 2012 and 2017 towards the promotion of CSA, as part of their agricultural programs. This budgetary allocation might set precedent to promoting CSA centered policies in the future as well as supporting the GoI to fulfill its commitment made at COP21.

An in-depth review of programs, such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (Prime Minister Agriculture Irrigation Plan, PMKSY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), National Horticulture Mission (NHM) and Rasthrya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), highlights that significant support is being offered to the promotion of climate-smart technology adoption. A total of nine such centrally sponsored agricultural programs of the Government of India were evaluated.

These nine programs together save almost 2% irrigation water, 3% fossil fuel, 6% fertilizer as compared to the usage while employing traditional agricultural practices and they also increase farmers’ income by 8.4%. Cumulative effect of these polices results in 3% reduction in GHG emissions. Present data has been brought to surface by a review of these nine centrally sponsored schemes of GoI, in accordance with the six pillars of CSA namely; water-smart, energy-smart, nitrogen-smart, crop-smart, knowledge-smart and weather-smart. The review also shows policy implications for both adaptation to climate change and mitigation of GHG emissions by means of savings done in water use, energy use, fertilizer use, farmers’ income and GHG emissions from the agriculture sector.

Upholding support and investment

Substantial financial support as part of the centrally sponsored schemes strives to work at the junction of all three aspects of CSA; increasing farm productivity and farmers’ income; adapting agriculture to changing weather patterns; and capitalizing on mitigation options available in the agricultural sector. It is being speculated that this investment will further attract investments from other stakeholders, though, the question of efficient use of these allocated resources always worries the practitioners.

In addition, policy visioning, rationalizing and converging these centrally sponsored programs with the state programs becomes vital for a diverse country like India, where nearly half the population depends on climate-sensitive occupations, like agriculture, as the source of livelihood. Furthermore, expanding or at least sustaining existing financial commitments to promote CSA should become an imperative action plan for the Government of India.

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Trees in Latin American silvopastoral systems are a powerful mitigation resource

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on May 08, 2019.

Silvopastoral systems are land-use practices in which trees are integrated into livestock production. Their potential for carbon sequestration has long been recognized in principle, but much neglected in practice. A recent report by 31 leading Latin American specialists in silvopastoral systems and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) framework now offers guidance on how to fill this gap.

The lead author, World Agroforestry’s (ICRAF) Marta Suber, comments, “in Latin America, silvopastoral systems are widespread and traditional way of land-use. We believe that our report will be key to ‘putting them on the map’ with regard to countries’ commitments under the Paris Agreement. Right now, they’re pretty much invisible.” 

“The problem is two-fold,” adds Juan David Turriago, designer of the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) MRV system for the greenhouse gases national inventory of Colombia for the Institute of Environmental Studies (IDEAM) in charge of the national MRV. “First, a lot of the time these systems and the trees in them are simply not taken into account. Second, even when they are recognized, the guidance on how to account for them is not up to the job.”

Most Latin America countries have identified the livestock sector as a priority for mitigation actions. However, effective action will depend very much on correction of the deficiencies in the MRV of silvopastoral systems.

If you can’t define it, then you can’t ‘MRV it’

Only five Latin American countries have official definitions of silvopastoral systems. Furthermore, some officially recognized land use types may or may not include them, adding to the potential for both omissions and double-counting. A key priority for the report was therefore to establish criteria for the inclusion of silvopastoral systems in national MRV systems. Two conditions were identified:

  • The inclusion of animals, pastures, and trees in the same productive area
  • The areas in question must be ‘transformed ecosystems’, i.e. not natural, pristine forests

The report provides guidance on the ‘how to’ of MRV of silvopastoral systems, including a decision-tree and a region-specific roadmap outlinining the choices and steps required to include them within national MRV systems.

Early impact

The report’s findings were already put to use in a high-level workshop on the design of the national Land Covers, Land Uses and Ecosystems Monitoring System (SIMOCUTE) in Costa Rica. Workshop participant Mauricio Chacón, leader of the national Low Emission Livestock Strategy and the Livestock Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) of Costa Rica, comments, “the report was really useful to us—we’ve already agreed on a follow-up workshop to work on descriptors that we can use for the Costa Rican Livestock NAMA and, under the same MRV principles applicable also to agroforestry, expand to the Coffee NAMA too.”

Looking to the future

The co-authors of the report, together with other experts, have come together in a regional network of technical experts interested in ensuring that their countries’ climate-change strategies take into account the contribution of silvopastoral systems to mitigation.

In this regard, Jacobo Arango, scientist from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and leader of the LivestockPlus project, said: "We are very pleased with the collective product of this MRV network in Latin America we have established and we are aiming to continue the work during 2019 and beyond with the support of the Livestock project and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)".

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The report Mitigation with Silvopastoral Systems in Latin America is the product of a participatory, multi-actor process led by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) scientists as part of the LivestockPlus of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).