Climate change defines our time the last five years have been the hottest on record, with significant rise in sea-levels and CO2 emissions. These data translate into global challenges for feeding a growing population and preserving our planet. While agriculture and food systems do contribute to climate change, they are also part of the long-term solution. Actions to make the agricultural sectors sustainable are among the most effective measures to adapt to, and mitigate, climate change1.
Simple solutions with great impact
First, adopting best practices in livestock feeding and manure management can reduce livestock emissions by 33%. Making better use of technologies like biogas generators and energy- saving devices, such as heat pumps and thermal isolation, can also be part of the transformation to sustainable agriculture.
Second, land restoration strategies, such as the rehabilitation of degraded lands, but also planting trees, bushes and mangroves, can rebuild carbon sinks. They can at the same time increase crop yields, and soil and water quality, while protecting biodiversity and preserving ecosystem services. Ultimately, soil organic carbon could raise food production by 17.6 megatonnes per year and help maintain productivity in drier conditions.
Maria-Helena Semedo Deputy Director-General of FAO
transform our food systems to fight climate change
1 - The latest IPCC Special Report shows that Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) represent about 24% of total net Human Greenhouse Gas (GHG). At the same time, AFOLU hold great substantial mitigation potential. 2 - Practices that can protect our natural resources while improving the state and quality of our ecosystems. 3 - Located in East Africa, one of the most important areas in terms of agrobiodiversity and food production.
© FA O
Third, agroecology and agroforestry approaches also enhance carbon sequestration through the simultaneous combination of crop rotation and permanent soil cover. FAO estimates that alternate wetting and drying of rice fields reduces methane emissions from paddies by 45%, while saving water and producing yields similar to those of fully flooded rice.
Innovation and nature-based solutions
The development of nature-based solutions2 can truly help address the planet s water challenges and unearth sustainable alternatives to producing our food. We need to reaffirm the role of farmers: they are great stewards, able to combine their traditional knowledge with new skills and training. For example, in the Kagera River Basin3, land and freshwater resources are under threat: to sustainably manage land and water, farmers use high-yielding and drought-tolerant vegetables that require small quantities of space, have a short growth cycle and are easily marketable.
Another response to climate change lies in unlocking the potential of agricultural innovations, be it simple solutions or satellite-based technologies. These can increase agricultural productivity, efficiency and yields, while preserving natural resources and the environment. Efficient irrigation management, digital farming and smart