'Climate-Smart' Farming: Strategies for the Developing World

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The role of agriculture in causing and becoming affected by climate change is, to say the least, of much current interest. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) has a new report out on precisely this issue: "'Climate-Smart' Agriculture: Policies, Practices and Financing for Food Security, Adaptation, and Mitigation" (PDF).

The report focuses on agriculture in developing countries. These must develop "climate-smart" approaches to cope with the challenge of feeding a warmer, more heavily populated world.

Climate change is expected to reduce agriculture productivity, stability and incomes in many areas that already experience high levels of food insecurity—yet world agriculture production will need to increase by 70 percent over the coming four decades in order to meet the food requirements of growing world population.

What needs to change?

    • Agriculture: must produce more food, waste less, and make it easier for farmers to get their produce to consumers.

    • Farming: must do a better job of managing natural resources like water, land and forests, soil nutrients and genetic resources to be more resilient to natural disasters.

    • Insurers: must do a better job of helping farmers cope with climate-related problems.

    • Agriculture: must find ways to reduce its environmental impacts—including lowering its own greenhouse gas emissions—without compromising food security and rural development.

This will take money, but from where?

The report gives examples of how farmers are already moving to tackle these issues and adopt new, climate-smart practices.

But how odd: How come FAO isn't talking about agricultural practices in developed countries? Don't we have some responsibility here?


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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