Gov’ts told to help farmers more to hit hunger and cli­mate goals

Business World - - World Business/ World Markets -

ROME — Global goals to tackle cli­mate change and end hunger by 2030 are within reach if donors and de­vel­op­ing na­tions help small farmers grow more cli­mate re­silient crops, ac­cess ir­ri­ga­tion and tap into so­cial safety nets, re­searchers said Mon­day.

In a new re­port, they iden­ti­fied 10 key shifts that could lift nearly 500 mil­lion peo­ple out of hunger, dou­ble the in­comes of 545 mil­lion small farmers in low and mid­dle income coun­tries, and limit agri­cul­tural emis­sions.

The changes would cost an ex­tra $ 33 bil­lion a year, said re­searchers from Ceres2030, a part­ner­ship be­tween Cor­nell Univer­sity, the In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute, and the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment.

Of that money, $ 14 bil­lion would need to come from donors, who al­ready sup­ply $12 bil­lion to tackle hunger, with $19 bil­lion pro­vided by de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, re­searchers said.

That is “a rel­a­tively mod­est amount of money” com­pared to what coun­tries are spend­ing to re­spond to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic and would of­fer “po­ten­tially mas­sive gains,” said Carin Smaller, co-direc­tor of Ceres2030.

In 2019, al­most 690 mil­lion peo­ple, or just un­der 9% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, went to bed hun­gry, fig­ures from the United Na­tions ( UN) show. But Ms. Smaller said the pan­demic could cause the num­ber to rise by an­other 95 mil­lion this year.

Mean­while, food pro­duc­tion ac­counts for about a quar­ter of cli­mate chang­ing emis­sions, ac­cord­ing to a 2018 re­port in the jour­nal Science, and ris­ing food pro­duc­tion is a ma­jor driver of de­for­esta­tion and in­creased con­sump­tion of fos­sil fu­els.

Tar­get­ing ad­di­tional fund­ing to on-farm im­prove­ments, get­ting har­vests ef­fec­tively to mar­ket and mak­ing sure farmers have ac­cess to ba­sic so­cial safety nets could help rein in both prob­lems, said the Ceres2030 re­port.

“If you tar­get in­vest­ments on the farm, you im­prove the eco­nomic pro­duc­tiv­ity of these poor farmers. If you tar­get in­vest­ments on the move, which is ba­si­cally markets, you en­sure they have a place to sell their goods,” Ms. Smaller said.

So­cia l pro­tec t ion pro­grammes would en­sure farmers have a min­i­mum level of cap­i­tal to adopt new, green tech­nolo­gies and en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly prac­tices, im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity with­out harm­ing na­ture, she said.

Among the re­port’s 10 rec­om­men­da­tions is in­vest­ing in agri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion ser­vices which of­fer train­ing and ad­vice to farmers — and par­tic­u­larly en­sur­ing they reach women — to en­cour­age adop­tion of cli­mate re­silient crops.

Help­ing poor farmers be­come part of farmers’ or­ga­ni­za­tions is also cru­cial, with stud­ies in Africa show­ing this im­proves crop yields and qual­ity, as well as wa­ter qual­ity and soil con­di­tions, the re­port said.

Last week, the UN World Food Pro­gram was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize for its ef­forts to com­bat hunger around the world and im­prove con­di­tions for peace in ar­eas af­fected by confl ict.

“It’s fan­tas­tic they won the prize. I hope it will help us also make sure we don’t for­get the longer- term in­vest­ments that are needed to end hunger once and for all,” Ms. Smaller told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

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