The triple win in climate-smart agriculture
Sir John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser and leading expert on food security and the future of agriculture, discusses how climate-smart agriculture can meet the challenges of resource constraints, climate change and a growing population.
Professor Beddington will be speaking on this subject at the Inside Government forum Meeting the Global Food Security Challenges of the Future through Science and Innovation on Tuesday 28th June 2011.
The world today faces one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century: how to feed 9 billion people in 2050, in the face of climate change, water shortages, burgeoning demand for energy and the growing competition for the use of natural resources. All of this must take place in the context of trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Agricultural intensification alone is not enough; it must be sustainable and should be part of a holistic policy package. That package must focus on existing agricultural, deforested, and degraded lands, as well as fisheries, and protecting biodiversity. The recent Foresight report makes clear that policy makers cannot afford to neglect greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture or the potential for carbon sequestration through agriculture.
Climate-smart agriculture offers a route to a green and low carbon economy while achieving growth in the agriculture sector that is fundamental to poverty alleviation, economic growth and environmental sustainability. Climate-smart agriculture can achieve triple wins (co-benefits): adaptation, mitigation and food security.
Agriculture will have to adapt to increasingly variable and unpredictable growing conditions including increased incidence of floods and droughts, increased temperatures, and different patterns in the occurrence of weeds, pests, and diseases. In addition, agriculture will have to reduce emissions as a part of efforts to mitigate climate change. This will require farmers and other food producers to learn new skills, from traditional agronomy and husbandry to understanding the environmental impact of agricultural and fisheries production on the wider market economy.
Deploying new and existing technologies, processes and knowledge will have an important role in climate-smart agriculture in the coming years. Scientists in conjunction with farmers, herders, fishers and foresters are developing all kinds of techniques. These include precision agriculture with precise dosages and timing of fertilisers; better land practices to sequester carbon in soils; improving cattle feed practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; seaweed production for bio-energy in aquaculture; and breeding crops with improved nitrogen.
Meeting these challenges will provide an exciting agenda.
This article is an exclusive preview of a presentation that will be given by Sir John Beddington, at the Inside Government forum ‘Meeting the Global Food Security Challenges of the Future Through Science and Innovation’ on Tuesday 28th June 2011.
A limited number of tickets are still available. For more information or to make a booking please visit http://tinyurl.com/6kl4w65 or contact Richard Smith on 0845 666 0664.
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