Climate change mitigation must involve smallholders

4 August, 2009 by (comments)
CIAT’s Andy Jarvis has been in the thick of the action at the National Dialogue about Climate Change in the Colombian capital Bogota. He writes after the conclusion of the second day of the three-day event, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Here’s what the press are saying about it. Over to Andy for his summary of day two:Today we presented the results of CIAT’s report on the opportunities for mitigation in the agricultural sector in Colombia. Our report makes a detailed analysis of the emissions from Colombian agriculture, and looks at the opportunities for reducing these through financial incentives and investment in technology.Beans - Darien, Colombia

The first major message from the report is that Colombia accounts for just 0.37% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of those emissions, and the sources are primarily from fertiliser use and livestock (in equal proportions).We recommend that any policies to reduce emissions are squarely focused on providing eco-efficient responses to production systems, whereby we achieve win-wins for the planet and for the smallholder farmers. This means we reduce emissions through rational use of inputs and appropriate management practices including use of new forage technologies, but that we also ensure these measures provide economic or social benefits to the smallholders themselves.

Our analysis highlights the difficulty of mitigating emissions in a country with such a high proportion of smallholder farmers, but acknowledges the strong institutional infrastructure to reach the farmers and promote the win-wins we have identified. These include :
  • Improved soil management in hillsides to reduce fertiliser use, increase soil carbon and enhance productivity
  • Promotion of improved forage technologies including the use of high protein feedstocks and silvopastoral systems
  • Site-specific agriculture to optimise use of inorganic fertiliser
  • Generation of new agricultural technologies to reduce reliance on inorganic fertilisers

Tomorrow we turn our attention to adaptation issues. Watch this space for the summary of events.

You can find out more about the climate challenges facing farmers around the world, and what the scientific community are doing to help at the CGIAR climate change blog.

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Filed Under: Climate Change, Latin America and the Caribbean, Regions