A call to action prepared by CGIAR for the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, got a favorable hearing in Colombia this week, as government officials, development experts, and business leaders gathered for the Colombia Green Economy Congress in Bogotá.
The Congress was designed to foster debate on the green economy concept and to prepare the official position and initiatives that Colombia’s government will take to Rio+20 in June. Speaking in a session on sustainable agriculture and food security, Ruben Echeverría, Director General of CIAT (a member of the CGIAR Consortium), presented the CGIAR call to action, emphasizing particularly the need to promote the wide range of options already available for better management of degraded agro-ecosystems.
One of these, he explained, involves an approach referred to as “LivestockPlus,” in which well-managed tropical forages for animal feeding are grown alone or in combination with food crops and trees. Improved forages have a proven capacity to boost rural incomes through increased meat and milk production while restoring degraded pastures. Recent evidence indicates that they also show immense potential for mitigating climate change.
According to a new CIAT book titled Eco-Efficiency: From Vision to Reality (published on the occasion of CIAT’s 45th anniversary), high-quality forages are second only to native forest in terms of their potential for storing soil carbon. Particular species of the productive African grass Brachiaria, which is widely grown in Latin America, also possess a remarkable ability to lower emissions of nitrous oxide – the most potent greenhouse gas emitted from farming systems – by trapping nitrogen in the soil.
This example and others showing how improved feed sources can enable livestock keepers to create both livelihood as well as environmental benefits will be examined closely during a “learning event” to take place on 18 June as part of Agriculture and Rural Development Day at Rio+20, which is being jointly hosted by CGIAR and Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation). The learning event is being organized by CIAT in collaboration with CATIE, Embrapa, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).