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External Food Security News

New Study: Domestic Migration Raises Incomes, Lowers Happiness

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Oct 14, 2018.

Oct 15, 2018
Press Release

New Study: Domestic Migration Raises Incomes, Lowers Happiness

Domestic migrants experience a substantial decline in mental and physical health, despite a significant increase in their incomes at destination, according to a new study from researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

UK appoints food supplies minister amid fears of no-deal Brexit

By Sarah Butler from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Sep 26, 2018.

MP David Rutley, an ex-Asda and PepsiCo executive, will oversee protection of supplies

The government has appointed a minister to oversee the protection of food supplies through the Brexit process amid rising concerns about the effect of a no-deal departure from the European Union.

Related: Customs delays of 30 minutes will bankrupt one in 10 firms, say bosses

Related: May to face pressure to ditch Chequers plan in cabinet showdown

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Climate change driving up malnutrition rates in Pacific, UN warns

By Ben Doherty from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Sep 12, 2018.

Climate-sensitive region the only in the world where rate of undernourishment has risen over the past 12 years

Climate change is making people hungry – with nearly 100 million people across the world needing humanitarian food aid because of climate shocks last year – and a growing number of people are malnourished across the Pacific, a new United Nations report says.

Last week, the Pacific Islands Forum stated formally that climate change represented the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific” – a declaration Australia ultimately signed but had spent much of the forum attempting to undermine.

Related: Australia relationship with Pacific on climate change 'dysfunctional' and 'abusive'

Fighting the causes of climate change are crucial in the global effort to reduce hunger

Related: Australia’s authority in Pacific 'being eroded by refusal to address climate change'

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Starvation: a weapon of war that could kill 590,000 children by the end of 2018

By Karen McVeigh from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Sep 10, 2018.

Save the Children says two thirds of infants in conflict zones are not being treated for life-threatening hunger

Starvation being used as a weapon of war has become the new normal, according to Save the Children. Its analysis shows more than half a million infants in conflict zones could die of malnutrition by the end of the year if they do not receive treatment, the equivalent of one every minute.

The charity makes its own estimates using UN data, and projects that 4.5 million under-fives will need treatment for life-threatening hunger this year in the most dangerous conflict zones – an increase of 20% since 2016. At current rates, only one in three will receive treatment, and 590,000 could die as a result.

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NEW BOOK: Higher Investments in Research, Adoption of New Technologies to Improve Productivity and Export Potential of Teff

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Aug 28, 2018.

Jul 19, 2018
Press Release

NEW BOOK: Higher Investments in Research, Adoption of New Technologies to Improve Productivity and Export Potential of Teff

Addis Ababa: Ethiopia could increase production of its gluten-free and nutrient-rich cash crop teff, and tap into the expanding domestic and international markets, by ramping up investments in basic research; adopting new and better technologies; impro…

New Study: Exposure to Air Pollution Leads to Lower Verbal, Math Test Scores

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Aug 27, 2018.

Aug 27, 2018
Press Release

New Study: Exposure to Air Pollution Leads to Lower Verbal, Math Test Scores

Washington, D.C.: While health has long been thought the most common casualty of air pollution, a landmark study from an International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) researcher establishes for the first time that exposure to air pollution over …

New Study: Dairy Intake Reduces Stunting Among Children in Bangladesh

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Aug 27, 2018.

Aug 27, 2018
Press Release

New Study: Dairy Intake Reduces Stunting Among Children in Bangladesh

Washington, D.C.: Milk consumption has   a large impact on linear growth in the crucial first 1,000 days of an infant’s life, reducing stunting by 10.4 point among children in Bangladesh, according to a new study by a researcher at the International Fo…

Irrigation technology investments without accompanying policies might worsen water scarcity, new study finds

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Aug 24, 2018.

Aug 24, 2018
Press Release

Irrigation technology investments without accompanying policies might worsen water scarcity, new study finds

Washington D.C.: Increasing irrigation efficiency through irrigation technologies alone is failing to reduce water consumption and, paradoxically, may even be making water scarcity worse, a major new study has found.


The research – published in Scien…

Food waste: alarming rise will see 66 tonnes thrown away every second

By Rebecca Ratcliffe from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 20, 2018.

New analysis warns food loss is set to increase by a third by 2030 unless urgent action is taken

The amount of food that is wasted each year will rise by a third by 2030, when 2.1bn tonnes will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tonnes per second, according to new analysis.

The report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) warns that the global response to food waste is fragmented and inadequate, and that the problem is growing at an alarming rate.

Related: Want to save the world from hunger? Start by not wasting food, shoppers told

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Scientists sequence wheat genome in breakthrough once thought 'impossible'

By Melissa Davey from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 16, 2018.

Genome able to be used to produce hardier wheat varieties as greater food security needed

Sequencing the wheat genome – once considered by scientists to be an insurmountable task – has been achieved through a worldwide collaboration of researchers spanning 13 years.

On Friday the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) published a detailed description of the genome of bread wheat in the journal Science.

Related: Growth in crop yields inadequate to feed the world by 2050 – research

Related: Wheat in heat: the 'crazy idea' that could combat food insecurity

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Farming ideas to make a fortune: inside Brazil's food security festival

By Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 14, 2018.

Agriculture startups from around the world gathered at a vibrant conference sponsored by pesticide manufacturer

As confetti showers a theatre inside Rio de Janeiro’s normally sedate Museum of Tomorrow, electronic pop music pounds and dozens of young people crowd the stage to dance enthusiastically, hugging each other and waving flags as their audience films the festivities on their phones.

But this is not a religious event, or a disco. It’s an unusual conference that has attracted several hundred young people from across the world to pitch and discuss ideas on how to feed the world’s booming population with agriculture startups – and make their fortunes doing so.

[It's] very bleak for young people around the world so this is a moment they can get motivated and inspired

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Race to contain destructive march of armyworm as pest spreads to India

By Kate Hodal from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 07, 2018.

Voracious caterpillar that cost Africa billions of pounds in lost crops now threatens food security across Asia, scientists warn

A crop-chomping caterpillar that has devastated food stocks across Africa has now arrived in southern India, and scientists warn the insect could spread throughout Asia to become a major threat to global food security.

The voracious fall armyworm, which was first spotted on the African continent two years ago and has since cost billions of pounds in crop losses, is best known for gnawing on maize but eats an additional 186 plant species, including sorghum and soya beans.

Related: Armyworms: The hungry caterpillar threatening a global food crisis

Related: Invasion of maize-eating caterpillars worsens hunger crisis in Africa

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Flame fades for Rohingya families amid mud and monsoons in Bangladesh

By Kaamil Ahmed in Kutupalong from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 06, 2018.

A million people who fled Myanmar for Kutupalong are struggling to eat after floodwater soaked the firewood they use for cooking

Stinging eyes and a chest heavy with the smoke that saturates her broken shelter are the constant ailments Feroza Khatun has learned to live with during her first rainy season in a Bangladeshi refugee camp.

The acrid smoke hangs in the air as she works, as she sits to read the Qur’an at night and – especially – when she cooks.

When it rains, water leaks inside and makes the firewood wet. When we try to set a fire, nothing. It’s very hard to cook

Related: 'Lives will be lost': Bangladesh rains promise further misery for Rohingya

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We need less waste, not more food | Letters

By Guardian Staff from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 05, 2018.

The key to UK food security is not to grow more but to ensure our supplies and to cut out profligacy

This year’s heatwave and climate change in general highlight growing risks to food supplies and not just in this country (“To feed the world, we must exploit science, not spurn its advances”). Assuming that Britain will always be able to import food is folly. In 2010, Russia banned grain exports after a drought, while Trump’s reaction to a poor US harvest can be imagined. A falling pound and lack of trade agreements post-Brexit mean that European supplies are hardly guaranteed. Other countries might have their own problems and why should they bail out Britain, given its feckless attitudes?

It took Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, not Defra, to help stop fishing throwback, while the UK condones factory farming, killing then not eating unprofitable livestock, wasting wood pigeons (and huge amounts of food in general) plus widespread overeating. Good land has vanished under oilseed rape and development (although some houses are needed) and there is no defined responsibility for UK food security.

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IFPRI Researchers Distinguished with Numerous Awards at International Conference of Agricultural Economists

By dsample from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Aug 03, 2018.

Aug 3, 2018
Press Release

IFPRI Researchers Distinguished with Numerous Awards at International Conference of Agricultural Economists

August 3, 2018, Washington, D.C. – Several IFPRI researchers were recognized with prestigious awards at the 30thInternational Conference for Agricultural Economists this week. Research Fellow Berber Kramer and received the T.W. Shultz Prize for Best Co…

What would you stockpile to prepare for no-deal Brexit?

By Guardian readers from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Aug 01, 2018.

Amid warnings of shortages of food and products if a no-deal Brexit took place, let us know what you would choose to stockpile

The UK imports half its food from abroad, and industry groups have warned new tariffs and custom delays from a no-deal Brexit could lead to empty supermarket shelves and higher prices.

Related: Stockpile food in the event of a no-deal Brexit? Dream on | James Ball

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Iron-Biofortified Pearl Millet (Bajra) Consumption Improves Cognitive Outcomes in Indian Adolescents

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jul 30, 2018.

Jul 30, 2018
Press Release

Iron-Biofortified Pearl Millet (Bajra) Consumption Improves Cognitive Outcomes in Indian Adolescents

Consuming biofortified pearl millet (bajra) improves learning and mental abilities related to perception, attention, and memory among Indian adolescents, according to a new study.

Brexit provides the perfect ingredients for a national food crisis

By Jay Rayner from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 29, 2018.

When it comes to the UK’s supply chain, preparations for a no-deal scenario are non-existent

In 1941, the refrigeration company William Douglas and Sons completed work on a brick-and-steel-frame cold store for meat and fish, on a site at Goldsborough in North Yorkshire. Although the building was demolished a couple of years ago, Theresa May and her newly appointed Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, might still like to have a look at the site, to get a sense of what the central management of a food supply chain crisis really looks like. Because right now they don’t seem to have the first clue. It’s vast and it sits alongside what was once a railway track. What’s more, it’s only one of 43 built that year around the country, alongside 40 grain stores. And all for a population only a little more than half that of today’s.

Last week, in evidence to the Brexit select committee, Raab announced that the government would be working to secure “adequate food supplies” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which could impede the free flow across our borders of the 30% of our food currently imported from the EU. No, the government itself would not be stockpiling food. Quite right. It doesn’t have a way of doing so. Instead, it would be up to the food industry to deal with it. They are comments that have left the entire British food supply chain – farmers, producers and retailers – utterly baffled.

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As Brexit looms, stockpiling food seems the only sensible response | Ian Jack

By Ian Jack from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 28, 2018.

I’m not spreading fear and alarm. A government as inept as this one cannot be trusted to feed us

Earlier this year Sweden’s government delivered leaflets to 4.8m Swedish households, inviting them to consider how they could best cope in a situation of “major strain … in which society’s normal services are not working as they usually do”. The government had in mind all kinds of crises – natural disasters, terrorism, cyber attacks, all-out war – but the basic survival strategy for all of them was the food hoard.

The leaflet recommended that every home lay down a stock of non-perishables: specifically breadstuffs with a long shelf-life (the leaflet mentioned tortillas and crackers), dried lentils and beans, tinned hummus and sardines, ravioli, rice, instant mashed potato, energy bars – and an old Swedish favourite “rosehip soup”, presumably to remind families huddled in the candlelight of their sun-dappled days in the forest.

Related: Stockpile food in the event of a no-deal Brexit? Dream on | James Ball

Related: No-deal Brexit risks 'civil unrest', warns Amazon's UK boss

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Dominic Raab: the face that says, ‘I need to take back control of my sphincter’ | Marina Hyde

By Marina Hyde from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 27, 2018.

The Brexit secretary’s Brussels trip didn’t quite go as he hoped. Instead it was a case of: take your plan to the EU. Get rinsed. Repeat

Even for those who’ve been stockpiling I-told-you-sos for two years, there really is zero satisfaction in watching Brexit secretary Dominic Raab wanly assure a parliamentary committee that, post-Brexit, “there will be adequate food”. Just like the al-Qaida number three job used to be, the DExEU gig really is dead men’s shoes. Give it a year and it’ll be Secretary of State Ray Mears.

Either way, Raab’s is perhaps the most inspirational vision of the UK’s post-EU future since Chris Grayling explained last October that British farmers would simply have to grow more food. The good news is the uplands are sunlit; the bad news is we all have to till them. Unfortunately, there’s a nine-month import hold-up on ploughshares, so you’ll need to fashion a tool from your defunct maroon passport. Or as the furious National Farmers’ Union responded to Grayling: “We haven’t had a food policy for 43 years.”

Related: With May’s Brexit plan rejected, the Tories are stuck | Martha Gill

Related: The will of the people? These Brexit ideologues are destroying democracy | Jonathan Freedland

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A Sustainable Food Future for Human and Planetary Health

By dsample from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jul 26, 2018.

Jul 27, 2018
Press Statement

A Sustainable Food Future for Human and Planetary Health

Statement by Shenggen Fan
Director General, IFPRI

(as prepared)

G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting, Buenos Aires, Argentina

27 July 2018

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to commend the G20 Agriculture Ministers for their continue…

Stockpile food in the event of a no-deal Brexit? Dream on | James Ball

By James Ball from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 26, 2018.

Our supply chains work on a ‘just in time’ basis and have neither the space nor the money for a surplus. Dominic Raab, take note

The government is spending the summer trying to prove to its backbenchers, the public and the EU that it is genuinely prepared for a “no deal” Brexit, and has plans to manage the massive disruption – most would say chaos – that would ensue if the UK and EU failed to secure a deal.

It might have any number of reasons for doing this. It could be throwing red meat to its backbenchers, to try to show that a no deal hasn’t been ruled out. It could be trying to influence EU negotiators, either by showing that the UK has plans in place, or by suggesting that the negotiators take the blame for the consequences of no deal. It may even be trying to reassure us that it knows what it is doing.

The food sector is a finely tuned machine; a no-deal Brexit would result in it grinding to a halt

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Raab admits planning to secure food supply for no-deal Brexit

By Pippa Crerar Deputy political editor from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 25, 2018.

Government not stockpiling food but working to prevent problems, says Brexit secretary

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has admitted that the government will have to take steps to ensure that there are adequate food supplies for Britain to cover the eventuality of a no-deal departure from the European Union.

Related: Stockpile food in the event of a no-deal Brexit? Dream on | James Ball

Related: Brexit: Raab 'sidelined' as May takes control of EU negotiations

Related: Brexit is the biggest risk to the UK economy, bar none

What is the withdrawal and implementation bill?

Related: UK public will blame EU for no-deal Brexit, says Jeremy Hunt

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To close America's diet gap, we must recognize food as a human right

By Sinikka Elliott, Sarah Bowen and Joslyn Brenton from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 21, 2018.

One in eight US households is food insecure. If we want a healthy and thriving nation, we all must have enough to eat

“You need to come say grace before dinner,” Patricia Washington announces, removing a sizzling frozen pizza from the microwave. “It’s hot,” she warns her grandchildren, four-year-old Mia and one-year-old Jayden. With everyone situated, Patricia begins the dinner prayer. “God is great, and God is good,” she says in a soft voice. Mia repeats each line after her. “And we thank Him for our food. By His hand we must be fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread.

The kids tear off chewy chunks of pizza. Patricia hasn’t taken any for herself. She makes sure the kids eat first, if she eats at all. Patricia’s daughter, Saundra, the children’s mother, usually joins them for dinner. But she is still out job hunting. An episode of Family Feud plays on the outdated television set.

What if we reframed the way we think of food: not as a privilege but as a fundamental human right?

Related: Dollar stores are thriving – but are they ripping off poor people?

Related: Minimum wage? It's time to talk about a maximum wage | Sam Pizzigati

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Dairy products 'may become luxuries' after UK leaves EU

By Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jul 18, 2018.

Reliance on EU butter, cheese and yoghurt means sharp price rises, says milk producer Arla

Everyday dairy products such as butter, yoghurt and cheese could become luxury items in Britain after Brexit, with price rises being caused by the slightest delay in the journey from farm to table, a report by the London School of Economics finds.

The LSE research, commissioned by the company behind Lurpak, Anchor and Arla brands, also found that speciality cheeses could become scarce after Brexit, with escalating costs whatever the outcome of the exit negotiations.

Related: UK 'sleepwalking' into food insecurity after Brexit, academics say

Related: Food prices would soar after no-deal Brexit, warns major dairy boss

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Modern Technologies Increase Ethiopian Small Farmers’ Wheat Yields by 14 percent

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jul 17, 2018.

Jul 5, 2018
Press Release

Modern Technologies Increase Ethiopian Small Farmers’ Wheat Yields by 14 percent

Washington, D.C: Usage of certified seeds, improved farming techniques and a guaranteed market for the wheat crop led to an increase in smallholder Ethiopian farmers’ wheat yields by an average 14 percent, according to a new study by the International …

Dollar stores are thriving – but are they ripping off poor people?

By Joe Eskenazi in San Francisco from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 28, 2018.

Plenty of items actually work out pricier than buying from supermarkets – but many don’t have that luxury

While online retailers have transformed the landscape of American commerce, the largest three dollar-store chains are prospering offline, opening more than 1,800 stores last year.

The cost of a trip can be so negligible – the average customer drops $29 a month – and dollar stores have grown so ubiquitous, that it’s hard to countenance what economists confirm: visitors to dollar stores are often paying more than well-off consumers who shop elsewhere.

Related: Fifty years on, the Mississippi town that sparked Dr King's poverty fight

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China’s road to food security in a time of rising trade protectionism

By dsample from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jun 26, 2018.

Jun 26, 2018
Press Release

China’s road to food security in a time of rising trade protectionism

Washington, DC – The rise of trade protectionism and antiglobalism around the world pose a considerable threat to global food security and nutrition. Two new reports launched in Beijing today provided critical analyses on the impact of trade disputes a…

Toronto pay-what-you-can store aims to tackle landfills and hunger

By Ashifa Kassam in Toronto from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 25, 2018.

Initiative aims to reduce dumping of ‘waste’ and sell it at prices set by buyers

In a bright, airy Toronto market, the shelves are laden with everything from organic produce to pre-made meals and pet food. What shoppers won’t find, however, is price tags. In what is believed to be a North American first, everything in this grocery store is pay-what-you-can.

The new store aims to tackle food insecurity and wastage by pitting the two issues against each other, said Jagger Gordon, the Toronto chef who launched the venture earlier this month.

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Who should feed the world: real people or faceless multinationals? | John Vidal

By John Vidal from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 05, 2018.

The merger of corporate giants Monsanto and Bayer begs a vital question – what kind of agriculture do we really want?

Unless there is a major hiccup in the next few days, an incredibly powerful company will shortly be given a licence to dominate world farming. Following a nod from Donald Trump, powerful lobbying in Europe and a lot of political arm-twisting on several continents, the path has been cleared for Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, to be taken over by Bayer, the second-largest pesticide group, for an estimated $66bn (£50bn).

The merger has been called both a “marriage made in hell” and “an important development for food security”. Through its many subsidiary companies and research arms, Bayer-Monsanto will have an indirect impact on every consumer and a direct one on most farmers in Britain, the EU and the US. It will effectively control nearly 60% of the world’s supply of proprietary seeds, 70% of the chemicals and pesticides used to grow food, and most of the world’s GM crop genetic traits, as well as much of the data about what farmers grow where, and the yields they get.

Related: Monsanto to ditch its infamous name after sale to Bayer

Related: Monsanto says its pesticides are safe. Now, a court wants to see the proof | Carey Gillam

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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.

Our actions are our future: Achieving Zero Hunger by 2030

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Oct 16, 2018.

Despite the attention paid to agricultural development and food security over the past decades, there are still about 800 million undernourished and 1 billion malnourished people in the world. At the same time, more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight and one-third of all food produced is wasted.

Before 2050, the global population is expected to swell to more than 9.7 billion people. At the same time, global food consumption trends are changing drastically, for example, increasing affluence is driving demand for meat-rich diets. If the current trends in consumption patterns and food waste continue, it is estimated we will require almost 50% more food production by 2050.

CCAFS Big Facts on undernourishment and obesity. Source: CCAFS Big Facts

Climate-smart agriculture helps to improve food security for the poor and marginalized groups while also reducing food waste globally. It helps to address a number of important challenges, for example, malnutrition.

By 2022, CCAFS aims to have removed nutritional deficiencies of one or more essential micronutrients in 6 million more people, of whom 50% are women.

In this blog, we highlight some of our initiatives that address the issue of malnutrition that contribute to achieving Zero Hunger by 2030.

Making the case for dual nutrition and climate adaptation goals

People in households already struggling under the burdens of malnutrition don’t have the resources to become climate-resilient, while those suffering the negative consequences of climate change are at an increased risk of becoming malnourished in the face of degraded land, increased rainfall variability, and other climate change impacts. With so many already grappling with one or the other of these challenges, to truly have an impact, we must look for solutions that will address them both.

A report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with contributions from CCAFS and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) highlights the ways in which investments can be made for multiple benefits for livelihoods, agriculture, and nutrition. Case studies featured in the report show how working toward two different but related goals can help better achieve each. For example, an IFAD project in Bolivia is helping potato farmers use enhanced indigenous adaptation strategies to cope with reduced rainfall and depleted soils. The resulting improved harvests can help reduce malnutrition among vulnerable communities.

In order to develop solutions that address these combined challenges, CCAFS and AN4H recognize the need for collaboration on climate change and nutrition:

We might achieve good results working separately, but we could achieve great results by working more closely together."

Collaboration on gender is an excellent example of an area where our joint efforts can complement and benefit each other, enhancing progress towards achieving gender, nutrition, and climate change goals simultaneously.

Download the report: The Nutrition Advantage: Harnessing nutrition co-benefits of climate-resilient agriculture

Climate change impacts the concentration of key nutrients in crops

According to research by CCAFS and partners (see GCAN Policy Note, right), many food crops—including wheat, rice, barley, and soybeans—have lowered concentrations of nutrients when grown under elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. This includes many nutrients that are important for overall health, such as iron, zinc, and protein. 

On average, people around the world receive most of their nutrition from plants, including 63 percent of total dietary protein, 68 percent of zinc, and 81 percent of iron. Because so many people in the world get their nutrition from plants, and because plants are uniquely affected by higher COconcentrations, it is likely that large parts of the world would consume less protein, iron, and zinc coming from crops in 2050 unless significant measures are taken to counteract nutrient leaching.

This loss of dietary nutrients in foods could translate to increased nutritional deficiency for hundreds of millions of people already on the brink of deficiency—mainly those living in developing countries in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, based on dietary preferences for the crops most affected.

Countries have many ways to act to protect themselves now. For some crops, breeding programs could choose cultivars based on reduced COsensitivity alongside other typically beneficial characteristics, such as high yields, heat tolerance, and drought and pest resistance. Many international organizations are actively working to create crop breeds with higher overall micronutrient contents, which would also work to offset these declines in nutrient density if adopted in regions that need them. CCAFS, through its learning platform on ex-ante evaluation and decision support for climate-smart options, is starting to work with several CGIAR centres on ex-ante analyses around climate- and nutrition-smart breeding.

Read our recent AgClim Letter: Hidden impacts: as carbon dioxide goes up, crop nutrients go down and sign up for future AgClim Letters here

Biofortified crops in Burkina Faso

Combating malnutrition in a changing climate requires crops that are both climate-resistant and have high nutrient potential.

One way that scientists are working to improve the lives of malnourished people in developing countries is through the development of crops that improve human nutrition.

The goal of biofortification is to grow nutritious plants which experts consider considerably less expensive than adding micronutrients to previously processed foods.

In 2017, through the BRAS-PAR project led by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), CCAFS introduced three biofortified varieties of millet and three different varieties of sweet potato in Burkina Faso. This improves the nutritional quality of the population (especially children, women and the elderly) and this, besides contributing to dietary diversification, also increases household incomes. 

Left: Alimata Ouedraogo, one of the women who received cuttings of biofortified sweetpotato. | Group photo of the producers who benefited from the biofortified varieties and participated in the participatory evaluation of the tests. Right: Biofortified sweet potatoes. Photos: Dansira Dembele (CCAFS West Africa). Click to see more photos.

Read more: Biofortified crops in West Africa aim to improve nutritional quality at the rural level

Policy is key

Achieving Zero Hunger will require not only technological changes on the part of many actors but also major behavioural shifts at various levels to help communities increase their adaptive capacity.

Policy is key to help strengthen the enabling environment for nutrition-related work. CCAFS is working with A4NH and a range of other policy partners to address some of the knowledge gaps and opportunities around national adaptation and investment planning to improve and diversify diets in target countries in several target countries in East Africa, South and Southeast Asia.”

Philip Thornton, CCAFS Flagship Leader on Priorities and Policies for CSA

Improving women’s access to climate information services will improve their ability to adapt to climate risks

By Dansira DEMBELE from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Sep 14, 2018.

Improving farmers’ access to climate information services (CIS) for decision-making is essential for mitigating climate-related risks in agriculture in Africa. In Ghana, CCAFS initiated a pilot project aimed at disseminating sustainable and equitable CIS to farmers through mobile phone platforms for strategic farm management decisions that help them adapt to climate change and variability.

The project has been implemented in the Lawra-Jirapa Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs) through a fruitful partnership with Esoko and the Ghana Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). From 2011 to 2016, Esoko disseminated downscaled seasonal forecast information as well as agro-advisories to farmers on their mobile phones. This information was relayed as voice alerts, SMS or by calling, according to the options selected by the 1000 farmers subscribing to the Esoko platform.

In a recently published CCAFS paper, "Gender and climate risk management: evidence of climate information use in Ghana," the pilot project was used to determine: (1) Whether perceptions on climate change and variability differ between men and women farmers; (2) whether gender is a determinant of climate information use; and (3) whether men and women benefit from, and face similar constraints to, the use of climate information services delivered through mobile phone platforms.

Key findings

The study showed men and women had similar perceptions about climate change and its implications for their agricultural activities. However, men were found to be more receptive to adopting CIS use for climate risk mitigation. Comparatively, men were 18% more likely to access mobile phones than women. Unlike women, men were able to access more financial resources and had control of household income which allowed them to purchase mobile phones. Women generally accessed their husbands’ mobile phones.

Despite these disparities, the study demonstrated that both men and women found it beneficial to use CIS for strategic farm decision-making, such as when to begin land preparation, when to plant, and which crop to select. In addition, both men and women were found to face similar constraints (such as poor network connectivity and limited training), in accessing and using CIS through mobile phone platforms. Another constraint to the effective use of climate information pointed out by women was limited or no formal education, which hindered their ability to read and understand text messages and expensive call charges.

In conclusion, the article suggests that the design of CIS must consider gender-specific needs, including by exploring various dissemination channels that address the constraints experienced by women, to ensure the development of a gender-responsive decision support service. By improving women’s access to and use of CIS, they can play important roles in household climate change adaptation planning. The study also recommends the mainstreaming of gender in agricultural policies to foster women’s equal access to farm resources.

Read the journal article: Gender and climate risk management: evidence of climate information use in Ghana



Identifying hotspots for gender-focused climate-smart interventions

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Aug 20, 2018.

In a recently published paper, "Woman in agriculture, and climate risks: hotspots for development," by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), "hotspots" for climate risks and women in agriculture have been identified. The intention of the study is to inform policy makers and development practitioners on which geographic regions should be prioritized, based on necessity, for implementing climate change adaptation measures for female farmers.

Definitions: what are hotspots?

Hotspots are defined in the study as regions with high concentrations of women farmers impacted by a high degree of climatic risk. Central to the study was the creation of a methodology for identification of hotspots. The study illustrates the results for India, outlining the major socio-economic constraints faced by women farmers in identified hotspots. A systematic literature review was also carried out in order to highlight the results of studies conducted outside of these hotspots.

Methodology: how to find a hotspot

"Women in agriculture" is defined in the study as the "absolute number of females whose major economic activity is working in agriculture as either a cultivator or a labourer." Using the district (an administrative division of an Indian state or territory) as the unit, the number of women in agriculture was obtained by compiling rural-level data on female cultivators and labourers in agriculture.

Drought, extreme rainfall and heat waves, all of which have a substantial negative impact on major crops, are the three types of climatic risks that were mapped using gridded data from the Indian Meteorological Department. Using a geographic information system (GIS), hotspots were identified by overlaying female participation with climate risks. Jenk’s natural break classification was used to classify the data for these two parameters into five different categories (very low, low, medium, high, and very high). The intersections of "high" and "very high" classes for the parameters in the overlay analysis indicated districts where the largest populations of women in agriculture are impacted by higher degrees of climate risks, i.e. the hotspots. 

Key findings

The study shows the involvement of 94.2 million women farmers across 641 districts, with different levels of participation in agriculture in India. Women farm labourers form the majority of the female agricultural workforce. These farmers face multiple climatic risks with varying degrees of impact in the agriculture system.

The overlay analysis highlighted 36 hotspot districts across 10 states, spread across the northern and central parts of the country. These districts contain 13.6 million women farmers57.4% of whom work as laborers—or 14.4% of the total number of women involved in agriculture across the country.

The study's socioeconomic characterization of the hotspot population identifies constraints faced by women in agriculture subject to climatic risks: labor, credit and market access (for cultivators) along with lower wage rates (for labourers) were highlighted as some of the major barriers.

The study emphasizes climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies and practices as an approach to overcoming these barriers. CSA solutions proposed include: information and communication technology (ICT)-based agro-advisory services, labour-saving practices like direct seeded rice and a system of rice intensifications, contingent crop planning and livestock management for improved outcomes.

Finally, a systematic review of the literature on gender and climate change in agriculture in India resulted in a list of 23 studies that were conducted in the last 10 years across multiple districts in the country. While 21 of these studies have been conducted outside hotspot districts, the paper emphasizes lessons from these studies for future efforts to help women farmers overcome the constraints identified. Among the lessons: the important role of training and capacity building, self-help groups and social networks in strengthening the adaptive capacity of women farmers.

Read the journal article: Woman in agriculture, and climate risks: hotspots for development

To what extent are farmers willing to pay for climate information in Burkina Faso?

By Dansira DEMBELE from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jun 22, 2018.

A study entitled "Farmers’ Willingness to Pay for Climate Information Services: Evidence from Cowpea and Sesame Producers in Northern Burkina Faso" has been published in the journal Sustainability

The study was based on the premise that the use of climate information services (CIS) has the potential to improve the resilience of agriculture to climate shocks in Burkina Faso, where agriculture is mainly rainfed. It builds on an earlier pilot project (CIS in West Africa) that demonstrated how access to and use of CIS was an important tool for reducing the effects of climate variability and change on crop production and increasing the resilience and adaptive capacity of producers. The work is an entry point for bringing CIS to scale and sustaining their use by cowpea and sesame growers in the Yatenga province of Burkina Faso where CCAFS is implementing one of its Climate-Smart Villages. It was conducted by researchers from CCAFS West Africa and the National Institute for Environmental and Agricultural Research of Burkina Faso (INERA). 

Study methodology

Data was collected using a structured questionnaire. One hundred seventy farmers were randomly selected from 17 villages in the Yatenga province in Northern Burkina Faso. Information on various household and farm characteristics and farmers’ willingness to pay for CIS were collected. The following independent variables were considered: gender, education, age, household size, farm size, use of indigenous forecast, exposure to climate information, use of stone line, use of organic manure, secondary activities, and production orientation. 

Key findings

  • Overall, 63% of farmers were ready to pay for at least one type of CIS (i.e. seasonal climate forecast, decadal climate information, daily climate information and agro-advisories).
  • Specifically, 53% of farmers were willing to pay for the seasonal forecast, 33% for decadal and 39% for agro-advisories (Table 1).
  • Producers of cowpea and sesame were willing to pay 3706 FCFA (about $7) for seasonal forecast, 1113 FCFA (about $2) for decadal climate information, 1923 FCFA (about $3.5) for daily climate information and 1674 FCFA ($3) for agro-advisories. 


Table 1. Descriptive statistics on the willingness of farmers to accept and pay for climate information in Yatenga, Burkina Faso

The study also showed that several socioeconomic and motivation factors such as the gender, age, education of the farm head and awareness of farm head of climate information, influence on farmers’ willingness to pay for CIS.

Conclusion and lessons

There’s a potential market for CIS in the study area if the number of people willing to pay increases by at least 5%. To achieve this, 11% of farmers still need to be convinced by the efficiency and usefulness of the service. Those who can’t afford the service may be financially supported. For businesses, the way forward would be to conduct a holistic economic assessment to determine the potential for the development of a viable business model on climate information services in the Yatenga province.  

Read more:

Un estudio reciente resalta el enfoque de Territorios Sostenibles Adaptados al Clima (TeSAC) como estrategia integrativa para escalar las opciones de adaptación en la agricultura

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on May 03, 2018.

El vacío entre el concepto y la realidad de la seguridad alimentaria para millones de personas sigue siendo grande, a pesar del incremento de la producción mundial de alimentos. Mientras 800 millones de personas no tienen suficiente comida, la situación está siendo empeorada por los impactos del clima sobre la producción de alimentos. Varios estudios han mostrado cómo la producción seguirá siendo afectada por los retos del cambio climático.

Sin embargo, varias opciones para reducir los impactos negativos del cambio climático que están disponibles ofrecen una plataforma para probar, evaluar y valorar las mejores opciones y prácticas que pueden ayudar construir resiliencia mientras se reducen las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI) en la agricultura. En ese contexto, la ASAC surge como el método y la práctica para aumentar la producción agrícola sostenible mientras se adapta a los cambios en el clima y por lo tanto, se mejora también la resiliencia.

Investigación agrícola para desarrollo

En un artículo reciente titulado ‘The climate-smart village approach: framework of an integrative strategy for scaling up adaptation options in agriculture’ (El enfoque TeSAC: marco de una estrategia integrativa para escalar opciones de adaptación en agricultura), producto de un trabajo colaborativo de investigadores del Programa de Investigación de CGIAR en Cambio Climático, Agricultura y Seguridad Alimentaria (CCAFS), se diseñó un proceso de construcción de resiliencia con intervenciones ASAC a través del enfoque TeSAC, usando los resultados preliminares obtenidos en Asia, África y América Latina.

Al empezar, el artículo resalta que, a pesar de la existencia de varios programas ASAC exitosos, la adopción por parte de las comunidades de productores es todavía incipiente. Una de las razones principales es la falta de evidencia disponible para los profesionales involucrados en temas de desarrollo tienen sobre cómo incorporar de manera práctica las innovaciones ASAC en los sistemas agrícolas. De acuerdo con esta observación, este estudio plantea un marco del enfoque TeSAC útil como plataforma para generar evidencia sobre la eficacidad de las opciones ASAC en varios sistemas agro-climáticos y productivos.

Participar para generar: el enfoque ASAC

Como instrumento de la Investigación en Agricultura para el Desarrollo (AR4D), el enfoque TeSAC permite probar las opciones tecnológicas e institucionales para enfrentar el cambio climático en la agricultura usando un enfoque participativo. Siendo plataformas, los TeSAC ayudan a generar evidencia sobre cuáles opciones ASAC funcionan y cuáles no, empezando desde la escala local y así, apoyando a una larga gama de actores – formuladores de políticas públicas, expertos en agricultura para el desarrollo, inversionistas – en la toma de decisiones.

“Cada TeSAC tiene su propia teoría de cambio (TOC, por su acrónimo en inglés: una descripción narrativa de la cadena causal lógica, desde actividades de investigación a los impactos) vinculada con las prioridades nacionales para asegurar que está en línea con iniciativas y acciones a varias escalas”.


Componentes clave del enfoque TeSAC para AR4D. Fuente: Aggarwal et al. 2018

El enfoque es aún más complejo cuando está basado en el contexto local, seleccionando las diferentes opciones ASAC para los TeSAC según las características agroecológicas, los niveles de desarrollo, así como las capacidades de las comunidades y de las autoridades locales, lo que resulta en un portafolio integral de intervenciones en lugar de tecnologías independientes. Más importante aún, este enfoque es diferente de otros porque está centrado en el fortalecimiento de capacidades de los beneficiarios locales de manera tal que hace el modelo capaz de auto-sostenerse y no depender de la existencia de fondos externos.

Los pasos en un TeSAC para AR4D. Los pasos están basados en la participación de los actores y pocas veces siguen un modelo lineal. Fuente: Aggarwal et al. 2018

Distribución global de los TeSAC

Fue en 2012, cuando CCAFS empezó el piloto del enfoque TeSAC para AR4D en África y Asia de Sur y en 2014, lo expandió en América Latina y el Sureste de Asia, alcanzando actualmente 36 sitios en las regiones priorizadas. Con la ayuda de la Herramienta de Análogos Climáticos, se evaluó la representatividad global de la red de los TeSAC. Los datos sobre precipitación y temperatura proporcionados por WorldClim ayudan a calcular similitudes entre los climas mensuales de cada TeSAC que tienen los mismos sistemas de producción. La literatura dice que cada parámetro tiene la misma importancia y las diferencias entre hemisferios están tomadas en cuenta. Además, aunque la temperatura y la precipitación no son los únicos factores climáticos, ellos explican mucha de la variación en la producción agrícola a nivel mundial. Por lo tanto, se estableció que cada uno de los 36 TeSAC incluye entre tres y siete localidades teniendo en cuenta el valor máximo de similitud de todos los TeSAC para cada pixel.

Representatividad global de la red TeSAC (puntos azules). Para cada pixel, el valor reportado corresponde a la similitud máxima entre el clima del pixel y todos los Territorios Sostenibles Adaptados al Clima. Fuente: Aggarwal et al. 2018

Resultados para escalar

Intervenciones altamente enfocadas en el contexto local fueron aplicadas en los TeSAC. Este artículo evalúa los resultados de Asia, África y América Latina que proveen razones para ser optimista sobre el diseño de estrategias robustas para escalamiento horizontal y vertical. En la mayoría de los casos, el enfoque está siendo usado por gobiernos nacionales como mecanismo de aprendizaje y están usando la evidencia para desarrollar sus estrategias de desarrollo en agricultura.

Por ejemplo, el gobierno de Nepal anunció que va implementar los TeSAC en su estrategia nacional. En Senegal, evidencia desde los TeSAC fue usada para promover algunas tecnologías ASAC en el Programa Acelerado para Agricultura del país. El gobierno del estado indio Haryana decidió escalar las intervenciones en 500 pueblos. El escalamiento exitoso de las estrategias involucra un carácter multi-dimensional que incluye no solamente la convergencia con programas nacionales o locales, pero también intercambios entre los productores, viajes de estudio, diseminación y promoción de tecnologías de información y comunicación (TIC), entre otras. Aunque la evidencia de los TeSAC todavía se está desarrollando, una evaluación sistemática de este marco a través de los diferentes sistemas agrícolas productivos es necesaria.

Descargue el estudio: Aggarwal, P. K., A. Jarvis, B. M. Campbell, R. B. Zougmoré, A. Khatri-Chhetri, S. J. Vermeulen, A. Loboguerrero, L. S. Sebastian, J.Kinyangi, O. Bonilla-Findji, M. Radeny, J. Recha, D. Martinez-Baron, J. Ramirez-Villegas, S. Huyer, P. Thornton, E.Wollenberg, J.Hansen, P. Alvarez-Toro, A. Aguilar-Ariza, D. Arango-Londoño, V. Patiño-Bravo, O.Rivera, M. Ouedraogo and B. Tan Yen. 2018. The climate-smart village approach: framework of an integrative strategy for scaling up adaptation options in agriculture. Ecology and Society 23(1):14

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Farmers and climate to profit from more precise fertilizer management

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Apr 25, 2018.

Farmers of irrigated wheat can increase profits and radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by applying fertilizer in more precise dosages, according to a new study.

Published today in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environmentthe study shows that farmers in the Yaqui Valley, a major breadbasket region in northwestern Mexico that covers over 1.5 times the area of the Mexico City, are applying significantly more nitrogen fertilizer than they need to maximize wheat yields.

Lower application of nitrogen fertilizer would cut the region’s yearly emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, by the equivalent of as much as 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equal to the emissions of 14 million gallons of gasoline, according to Neville Millar, a senior researcher at Michigan State University (MSU) and first author of the published paper. 

Our study is the first to isolate the effect of multiple nitrogen fertilizer rates on nitrous oxide emissions in wheat in the tropics or sub-tropics,” Millar said. “It shows that applying fertilizer to wheat at higher than optimal economic rates results in an exponential increase in nitrous oxide emissions.” 

Results applicable in China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan

Yaqui Valley wheat farming conditions and practices are similar to those of huge wheat cropping expanses in China, India, and Pakistan, which together account for roughly half of worldwide nitrogen fertilizer use for wheat, according to study co-author Iván Ortíz Monasterio, a wheat agronomist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), whose Yaqui Valley experiment station was the site of the reported research. 

The recommendations are globally relevant and represent a potential triple win, in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, higher income for farmers and continued high productivity for wheat cropping,” Ortíz Monasterio said.

Measuring nitrous oxide after nitrogen fertilizer applications in spring durum wheat crops during two growing seasons, Millar and an international team of scientists found an exponential increase in emissions from plots fertilized at greater than economically-optimal ratesthat is, when the extra nitrogen applied no longer boosts grain yield. 

They also found that grain quality at the economically optimal N rates was not impacted and exceeded that required by local farmer associations for sale to the market. They examined five different nitrogen fertilizer dosages ranging from 0 to 280 kilograms per hectare. 

“In our study, the highest dosage to get optimum wheat yields was 145 kilograms of nitrogen fertilizer per hectare in the 2014 crop,” said Millar. “Yaqui Valley farmers typically apply around 300 kilograms. The wheat crop takes up and uses only about a third of that nitrogen; the remainder may be lost to the atmosphere as gases, including nitrous oxide, and to groundwater as nitrate.”

Promoting fertilizer use that maximizes yields, saves farmers money, and decreases emissions

Farmers’ excessive use of fertilizer is driven largely by risk aversion and economic concerns, according to Ortíz Monasterio. “Because crops in high-yielding years will require more nitrogen than in low-yielding years, farmers tend to be optimistic and fertilize for high-yielding years,” said Ortíz Monasterio. “At the same time, since farmers don’t have data about available nitrogen in their fields, they tend to over-apply fertilizer because this is less costly than growing a crop that lacks the nitrogen to develop and yield near to full potential. Finally, in northwestern Mexico, farmer credit unions sell fertilizer and their approval is required before farmers can make ‘risky’ crop management changes like applying less fertilizer.”

Ortíz Monasterio and his partners have been studying and promoting management practices to help farmers to use fertilizer more efficiently and take into account available soil nitrogen and weather. This technology, including Greenseeker, a handheld device that assesses plant nitrogen needs, was tested in a separate study for its ability to advise farmers on optimal rates of fertilizer use. 

“Sensing devices similar to Greenseeker but mounted on drones are providing recommendations to Yaqui Valley farmers for wheat crops grown on more than 1,000 acres in 2017 and 2018,” Ortiz Monasterio notes.

New emission factors to inform global markets

Part of a research partnership between CIMMYT and MSU’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Long-Term Ecological Research program to reduce greenhouse gas impacts of intensive farming, a key aim of the present study was to generate new emission factors for Mexican grain crops that accurately reflect nitrous oxide emissions and emission reductions and can be used in global carbon markets, according to Millar.

“The emission calculations from our work can be incorporated by carbon market organizations into carbon market protocols, to help compensate farmers for reducing their fertilizer use,” he said.

This study shows that low emissions nitrogen management is possible in tropical cereal crop systems and provides important guidance on the optimal levels for large cropping areas of the world,” said Lini Wollenberg, an expert in low-emissions agriculture for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which helped fund the research. “With these improved emission factors, countries will be able to better plan and implement their commitments to reducing emissions."

Read the study: Millar, N, Urrea A, Kahmark K, Shcherbak I, Robertson GP, Ortiz-Monasterio I. 2018. Nitrous oxide (N2O) flux responds exponentially to nitrogen fertilizer in irrigated wheat in the Yaqui Valley, MexicoAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.

A recent paper delineates the Climate-Smart Village approach as an integrative strategy for scaling up adaptation options in agriculture

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Feb 19, 2018.

The bridge between food security as a concept and as reality for millions of people remains wide despite increases in global food production. With almost 800 million people having insufficient food, the situation is only exacerbated by climatic impacts over food production. Studies have recurrently shown how food production will continue to be impacted due to climate-induced challenges.

However, the availability of various options for reducing the negative impacts of climate change at our disposal opens up a platform for testing, evaluating and assessing the best options and practices to help build up resilience and also reduce emissions from the agricultural sector. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in this situation emerges as the method and practice for increasing sustainable agricultural production by adaptation to climatic changes and thereby enhance resilience.

Agricultural research for development

In a recent paper titled ‘The climate-smart village approach: framework of an integrative strategy for scaling up adaptation options in agriculture’ by researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), a process of resilience building with CSA interventions through the Climate-Smart Village (CSV) approach was elaborated with early results from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

At the outset, the paper emphasizes that despite several successful CSA programs on board, there is still a weak uptake of the same by farming communities. One of the critical reasons for this is the lack of evidence at the disposal of development professionals regarding the ways to practically incorporate innovations into agricultural systems. In line with this observation, this paper delineates a conceptual framework of the CSV approach that serves as a platform to generate evidence on the efficacy of climate-smart options in diverse agro-climatic and production systems.

Participate to generate: the CSV approach

As a means for Agriculture for Development (AR4D), the CSV approach allows for testing technological and institutional options for dealing with climate change in agriculture through a participatory approach. By being the platform itself, CSVs help generate evidence of which CSA options work best or do not work starting from local scales, thereby, helping a range of stakeholders-policy makers, agricultural development practitioners, investors among others in making informed decisions. The authors write:

With every CSV site having its own theory of change (TOC; a narrative description of the logical causal chain from research activities to impact) linked to national priorities to ensure that it is consistent with initiatives and actions across different scales.”

Key components of a CSV AR4D approach: Source: Aggarwal et al. 2018

Further onus is added to the approach by keeping it locally contextualized, with different options being selected for the CSV sites depending on the agro-ecological characteristics, development levels as well as capacities of the farming community and local authorities, thus, the result being a portfolio (weather-smart, water-smart, seed/breed-smart, carbon/nutrient-smart, institutional/market-smart) of interventions instead of single technologies. Most importantly, the approach differs from existing ones with its focus on strengthening capacities of the local beneficiaries in ways that makes the model self-sustainable rather than being wholly dependent upon the parallel existence of funds.

Outline of the steps in a typical CSV AR4D site. Steps are based on stakeholder engagement and seldom follow a simple linear model. Source: Aggarwal et al. 2018

Global distribution of CSVs

It was in 2012 that CCAFS started piloting the CSV AR4D approach in Africa and South Asia, and by 2014, expanded the same in Latin America and Southeast Asia, currently having 36 sites across the focal regions. With the help of the Climate Analogues Tool, the global representativeness of the CSV site network has been evaluated. The WorldClim data of precipitation and temperature helped compute the similarity between the monthly climates of each CSV with those of all other pixels with the same production system. The literature states that equal weight is given to each parameter and hemispheric differences are accounted for. Also, despite temperature and precipitation not being the only climatic drivers, they largely explain much of the variation in agricultural production worldwide. Thus, it was established that each of the 36 CSV sites encompasses between three to seven localities by taking the maximum similarity value across all CSVs for each pixel.

Global representativeness of the CSV network (blue dots). For each pixel, the value reported corresponds to the maximum similarity between the pixel’s climate and all the Climate-Smart Villages. Source: Aggarwal et al. 2018

Results for scaling

Highly locally contextualized interventions have been applied to the CSVs across the focal points.This paper assesses the results out of Asia, Africa and Latin America that have given reasons for being optimistic about charting a robust scaling-out and scaling-up strategies. In most cases, the approach is being utilized by the national governments as learning grounds and are using the evidence for developing their agricultural development strategies.

For example, Nepal government has announced the implementation of CSVs as part of their national strategy. In Senegal, evidences from CSVs have been used to mainstream some CSA technologies in the nation’s Accelerated Program for Agriculture. The government of Haryana in India decided to scale out the interventions in 500 villages. Successful scaling out strategies assume a multi-dimensional character which include not only convergence with national/local programs but also farmer exchanges, study tours, ICT induced dissemination and outreach, among others. Although evidences for CSV approach are still being accumulated, a systematic evaluation of this framework across the different agricultural production systems is necessary. 

Download the paper: Aggarwal, P. K., A. Jarvis, B. M. Campbell, R. B. Zougmoré, A. Khatri-Chhetri, S. J. Vermeulen, A. Loboguerrero, L. S. Sebastian, J.Kinyangi, O. Bonilla-Findji, M. Radeny, J. Recha, D. Martinez-Baron, J. Ramirez-Villegas, S. Huyer, P. Thornton, E.Wollenberg, J.Hansen, P. Alvarez-Toro, A. Aguilar-Ariza, D. Arango-Londoño, V. Patiño-Bravo, O.Rivera, M. Ouedraogo and B. Tan Yen. 2018. The climate-smart village approach: framework of an integrative strategy for scaling up adaptation options in agriculture. Ecology and Society 23(1):14

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Showing the way to climate-smart agriculture around the world

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Oct 09, 2017.

Growing impacts of climate change on agricultural production poses major challenges for farmers’ food security and livelihoods. At the same time, to meet the global food demand by 2050, agricultural production must increase by 60%.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) addresses the challenges of agriculture and climate change by increasing productivity while enhancing farmers’ resilience and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. CSA initiatives consider these three objectives together at different scales (from farm to landscape), at different levels (from local to global), and over short and long time horizons, taking into account national and local specificities and priorities.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in partnership with the World Bank, CATIE and USAID, have been working together on the CSA Country Profiles publication series that gives an overview of the agricultural challenges in countries around the world, and highlight country-specific CSA practices and technologies and assess their relation to adaptation, mitigation, productivity, institutions and finance. The country profiles help open pathways for sustainably increase productivity, adapt and build resilience to climate change, and reduce GHG emissions where possible.

CCAFS and CIAT launched profiles in the last years of Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Kenya, Senegal and Moldova, and new country profiles have recently been released for Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

What do these profiles tell us?

Each country profile describes the relevance of agriculture in the given country, for example, agriculture’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, the production systems that are key for food security, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and the challenges for the agricultural sector.

For example, the country profile for the Philippines details how agriculture is a key economic sector in the Philippines, contributing to approximately 12% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing around 32% of the economically active population. A combination of farm characteristics (i.e., small-scale and fragmented), a lack of infrastructure, and policy and institutional barriers has left the sector underdeveloped and unable to meet the food requirements of the growing population. This has resulted in a heavy reliance on food imports, especially wheat and rice, the population’s main staple crops. Top agricultural exports such as banana, coconut, pineapple, and other tropical fruits have the potential to increase growth in the agricultural sector.

The economic relevance of agriculture in the Philippines. Source: Climate-Resilient Agriculture in Philippines

Informative infographics complement the analyses with key knowledge on health, food security and aid, access to basic needs (portable water, electricity, education), land holding and distribution of wealth.

For example, Nepal is endowed with an array of geographical, topographic, climate, and ecological conditions, as well as with diverse cultural norms and social groups. These have led to an uneven transformation of the society and its economy. Agricultural investments need to acknowledge this diversity through targeted interventions that are adapted to different agro-ecologies and farm types. CSA programs must target vulnerable social groups (e.g. women and youth) by making information and resources available and accessible to them. CSA investments not only enhance crop productivity, but can also contribute to improved working conditions for women (e.g., workload, physical burden) and their position in the society. Water harvesting, improved cattle and goat sheds, and biogas production have especially high potential to reduce the drudgery of farming for women.

Tanzania’s population was estimated at 53 million people in 2015, 68% of them residing in rural areas. Despite the country’s remarkable economic growth in recent years, approximately 28% of the population lives below the poverty line and about half with less than US$ 1.90/day. Unemployment rates amount to 86%. Only 15% and 55% of the population have access to electricity and potable water, respectively. Own productive resources is skewed towards men; barely 20% of the women own agricultural land.

Demographics, access to basic needs and land holding in Nepal. Source: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Nepal Demograhics, access to basic needs and land holding in Tanzania. Source: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Tanzania

The profiles detail projected changes in temperature and precipitation in the countries, and the potential economic impacts of climate change on agriculture, including impact of climate change on net trade in the given country between 2020 and 2050.

In Mozambique, independent of climate change, results indicate that by 2050, the country may become more dependent on imports of all major agricultural commodities. However, maize is likely to be particularly affected by climate change with net imports by 2050 expected to be 6.7 percentage points (pp) more under the scenario with climate change as compared to the scenario without climate change. The imports of rice and pulses, on the other hand, are projected to be 7.7 pp and 9.7 pp less under climate change than under the scenario without climate change. The most significant impact of climate change on the cultivated area of analysed crops is projected to be on legumes, which are estimated to cover up to 16 pp less area under the climate change scenario than under the scenario without climate change.

The impact of climate change on net trade in Mozambique (2020-2050). Source: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Mozambique

Climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices present opportunities for addressing climate change challenges, as well as for economic growth and development of the agriculture sector. The CSA country profiles present a selection of already existing CSA practices with high climate smartness scores according to expert evaluations. As climate-smart technologies and practices are highly context-specific, for a given production system the specific CSA practices differ among countries. The country-specific assessment of top ongoing CSA practices provides policy-makers with important scientific evidence on the effectiveness of climate-smart agricultural practices and technologies in the examined countries. Here are a few examples of selected CSA practices from Pakistan and smartness assessment for top ongoing CSA practices from Bangladesh:

Some of the selected CSA practices and technologies for production systems key for food security in Pakistan. Source: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Pakistan

Detailed smartness assessment for top ongoing CSA practices by production system as implemented in Bangladesh. Examples of aman rice and pulses. Source: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Bangladesh

The profiles also share existing institutions and policies that facilitate the scaling up of CSA, and offers analysis on potential financing opportunities for CSA in the countries.

In Zambia, the establishment of the National Climate Change Fund (NCCF) and mainstreaming of CSA into national policies and strategies represent positive steps towards ensuring an enabling institutional and policy environment supportive of CSA. Improved technical and financial capacity of institutions and stakeholders to operationalize these policies and strategies through projects and programmes on the ground remain key for scaling out CSA. Opportunities exist for women and youth to access funds related to CSA through mechanisms such as The National Youth Fund. However, more needs to be done to address the underlying factors which hinder access of women, youth and vulnerable groups to agricultural finance such as land rights (both formal and customary), small land sizes and labour availability.

Policies for CSA in Zambia. Source: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Zambia

In a recent blog post on the CIAT website on the profiles for Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, Ivy Kinyua highlights the common issues emerging from the profiles, namely:

the need for strengthening of the national agricultural extension system and extension partners on matters related to CSA; the generation and sharing of evidence to support the promotion and adoption of climate-smart practices at local level – including through sub-national climate risk profiling; ensuring financing is available for CSA practices from public, private and international climate-financing instruments; the engagement and involvement of the private sector in CSA including microfinance, input supply, value addition and marketing; and the need to integrate gender and other crosscutting issues in CSA programming."

Country profiles for climate action in agriculture

Considering the overwhelming priority accorded to agriculture in the NDCs, national level actions in the sector will lead the way, both in adaptation and mitigation. CCAFS researchers estimate that in order to reach the 2C target of the Paris Agreement, emissions from the agricultural sector will need to be reduced by 1 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030; current interventions can only achieve 21-40% of this goal. Therefore, transformative changes are needed in the sector. The country profiles can facilitate this change as they provide snapshot of a developing baseline created to initiate discussion at national and global levels about entry points for investing in CSA at scale, and thereby aim contribute to future climate change adaptation and mitigation actions.

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Global carbon tax would increase undernourished by 80-300 million; alternative strategies protect food security

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Oct 04, 2017.

Research published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters examines mitigation policy scenarios in the agriculture, forestry and land use sector that would help stabilize climate change to less than a 2 °C increase in global temperature and how they would influence food security. It is one of the first studies to examine the effects of countries’ participation in mitigation, particularly the different roles of developing, emerging and developed countries.

Scientists from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) explored how a global carbon tax together with land-based climate change mitigation options would affect the cost of major food commodities. To do this, they used established climate stabilization scenarios for achieving 2 °C with the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM), a partial equilibrium model that considers both biophysical and economic changes.

Uniform global carbon tax will not have uniform effects

A widely discussed cost-efficient mitigation policy is a global tax on carbon. Research shows that a USD 10 tax / ton of carbon dioxide equivalent would achieve some mitigation cost-efficiently, and thus not raise food prices significantly. However, a higher carbon tax such as USD 100/ton – which would be necessary if the global community employed carbon taxes as a principle mitigation tool – would cause steeper food price increases, in large part because of the wide extent of inefficient food production practices and the cost of shifting from these practices to more efficient production. Higher food prices would lead to more food insecurity and undernourishment in some countries.

As long as current food production remains at low levels of productivity, the higher the carbon tax, the higher the food prices, and the more people who would experience food insecurity.

Researchers estimate that a uniform carbon tax could increase the number of undernourished people by 80 to 300 million in 2050.

(a) Relative price impact of a carbon tax (0 – 150 $/tCO2eq) on emissions from agriculture on global commodity prices and (b) regional food price index.

These calculations assume no shifts in production to more emission-efficient systems, so may overestimate price impacts. Guide to abbreviations: CIS – Commonwealth of Independent States, EAS – East Asia, EU28 – European Union, LAM – Latin America, MEN – Middle East and North Africa, NAM – North America, OCE – Oceania, SAS – South Asia, SEA – South East Asia, SSA – Sub-Saharan Africa. WLD - World. Source: Figure 1, Frank et al. 2017)

Researchers found that the carbon tax would raise the price of most food commodities, but most significantly in emission-intensive beef, rice, and milk.

While food prices would increase across the globe, prices would increase the most in Oceania, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia due to emission-intensive agricultural production, emission-intensive diets, or both.

Achieving climate change mitigation while protecting food security

A diverse portfolio of ambitious low emissions development practices, policies and economic measures is needed to achieve food security, as described in the Environmental Research Letters paper and a related info note, titled 'Carbon prices, climate change mitigation & food security: How to avoid trade-offs?'

Global cooperation, a diverse mitigation option portfolio, and win-win options, such as possibly soil carbon sequestration, are key to achieve ambitious climate change mitigation targets without jeopardizing food security,” lead author Stefan Frank said. 

Options in the food system include:

  • soil organic carbon sequestration,
  • reduced deforestation,
  • sustainable intensification of agriculture,
  • diet shift toward less emission-intensive   foods,
  • reducing food loss and waste, and
  • improved technologies.

Policy and economic measures include:

  • international trade mechanisms,
  • climate finance,
  • agricultural investment, and
  • redistribution of a carbon tax.

While some land-based mitigation options will increase food prices, and therefore food insecurity, the study presents two strategies that can maximize benefits for the climate while maintaining food security: reducing deforestation and increasing soil carbon sequestration.

Regions that can reduce deforestation can mitigate with less cost to food security

The analysis described in the study found that reducing emissions from land-use change in land-rich countries has large mitigation potential and limited trade-offs with food security. For example, if developed countries and Brazil followed a cost-efficient mitigation regime, mitigation would be achieved through avoided deforestation and have little impact on agricultural production. Conversely, mitigation in densely populated countries with intensive agriculture would likely lead to more significant decreases in agricultural production and resulting increases in food insecurity.

Soil organic carbon sequestration offers a potential we must pursue

Humans can increase soil organic carbon through cropland and grassland management, biochar application, enhanced biomass in roots, and restoration of degraded lands and organic soils – and such efforts most often also improve soil productivity and water storage.

Researchers are investigating how to scale up soil organic carbon sequestration and its benefits for soil health, resilience, and food security.

Scenarios resulting from the GLOBIOM model, presented in the article and the info note, 'The potential of soil organic carbon sequestration for climate change mitigation and food security,' estimate that soil organic carbon has the potential to sequester up to 3.5 GtCO2eq/yr by 2050, helping the world limit global warming to 1.5 ºC warming. SOC sequestration potential in 2050 could offset approximately 7% of total 2010 emissions.

Soil carbon has the potential to minimize food price increases, potentially protecting the food security of up to 225 million people.

Soil carbon sequestration is indispensable to achieve ambitious climate change mitigation targets with optimal cost-efficiency and tempered impacts to food security,” the study said.


More information:

This work was undertaken with support from USAID and CGIAR Fund and bilateral donors. IIASA also received support for this work from the  European Union’s FP7 Project FoodSecure, the Belmont Forum/FACCE-JPI funded DEVIL project, UGRASS (NE/M016900/1), IIASA’s Tropical Futures Initiative (TFI), and the GCP’s Managing Global Negative Emissions Technologies (MaGNET) program.

Report identifies high-yield, low-emission options for cereal systems in South Asia

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Sep 04, 2017.

Increasing food demand of a growing population and changing consumption patterns are likely to cause a 30% increase in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture by 2050. Asian and African countries will account for most of the increase.

Already, India is the third largest GHG emitter in the world, and agriculture is the second largest source of GHG emissions in the country, accounting for ~18% of gross national emissions. With a population of more than 1.3 billion and increasing, agricultural production is expected to increase significantly.

Given India's prominence, it is signficant that India recently declared a voluntary goal of reducing the emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 35% over the 2005 level by 2030. The government indicated that land-based mitigation measures are critical to achieving this target.  

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

Recent research by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and CCAFS published in the journal Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Changeshows that India’s goal of reducing emission intensity can be aligned with food security in a low emissions development scenario. In the figure below, the strong negative correlation between grain yield and emission intensity for rice, wheat and maize means that emission intensity can be reduced while farmers' yields increase.


The study identified high-yield, low-emission pathways for rice, wheat and maize production in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India and calls for research and socio-economic interventions to support wide-scale adoption by smallholder farmers to meet food security and climate goals.

High-yield, low-emissions options for cereals

In cereals, the key determinants for agricultural emissions are rate, time and frequency of nitrogen fertilizer application, tillage practice (e.g. conventional or zero-tillage), application of manure and incorporation of crop residues. The study found that in the three main cereal crops of India - rice, wheat and maize - nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) emissions increase with increased use of nitrogen inputs.

Eliminating nitrogen fertilizer inputs is not an option because it will cause yields – and thus household and national food security – to decrease precipitously. In India, the goal is that farmers scale back fertilizer use to optimum levels.

Researchers found that 82-95% farmers in a high-input production zone (Karnal, Haryana) and 23-40% farmers in the low-input production zone (Vaishali, Bihar) exceeded the optimum rate of application of nitrogen fertilizer in rice and wheat. This over-use of fertilizer indicates that India has a huge opportunity to reduce GHG emissions whilst maintaining production levels by reducing nitrogen fertilizer application rates to optimum levels and adopting fertilizer management practices that increase nutrient-use-efficiency.

In the case of rice production in the Karnal district of Haryana, research aimed to develop pathways for emission-efficient production and identify by how much different factors increase production and reduce emissions. Depending on production strategies and available resourcesfarmers have low-emission options immediately available to them. They can:

  1. Reduce emissions without compromising yield by reducing fertilizer amounts;
  2. Improve production with no additional emission by improving fertilizer-use efficiency; or
  3. Increase production and reduce emissions by layering multiple improved practices involving tillage, residue, nutrient and water management.

Socio-economic factors influence adoption of high-yield, low-emission agricultural practices

The study also examined how social drivers such as family size, gender, farm size, and use of information and communication technologies influence changes in practices in cereal production in India.

Researchers found strong associations between grain yield and emissions. Certain socio-economic and household characteristics suggest that efforts to decrease emission intensity in agriculture must focus on both agricultural technologies and socio-economic and human behavioural dimensions directly affecting their adoption. Te authors write:

Our analyses show that the implementation of emission-reducing technologies and practices are influenced by the household’s socio-economic conditions including family size, gender of household head and farm size, as well as access to information through training and use of ICT. These socio-economic factors must be taken into account when considering the scaling out of mitigation-related interventions and the implementation of high-yield low-emission pathways in agriculture. Future research evaluating a high-yield low-emission pathway in agriculture should consider not only emission-reducing interventions but also the tradeoffs between GHG emissions and food/nutrition security in different agricultural production systems.”

Capacity building to increase farmers’ awareness and skills in agriculture and climate change contributes to increased production and reduced GHG emission intensity. Thus, farmers’ societies, farm cooperatives and local non-governmental organizations can play a vital role in encouraging farmers to adopt high-yield, low-emission pathways.

Local to national adoption of high-yield, low-emission pathways for cereals

Reducing fertilizer input without compromising yield represents out-of-pocket financial savings on production for individual farmers, an important adoption incentive. Given current annual consumption of 16 million tonnes of nitrogen in India, small savings at the individual farmer level will lead to huge collective savings.

Additionally, decreasing the amount of wasted fertilizer helps reduce negative environmental externalities, such as water pollution, at local levels. 

At a state and national level, policies that include multiple approaches to increasing farmers' awareness and access to information about climate-smart agricultural practices will be necessary to meet national targets for reductions in GHG emission intensity. Key approaches to reaching male and female farmers from a range of economic and educational backgrounds include: targeted subsidies, mobilization of local civil society organizations, and use of information and communication technologies. 

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