Helping farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change can also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, finds a new study from a United Nations agricultural agency.
“What this report shows is that smallholder farmers are a key part of the solution to the climate change challenge,” said Michel Mordasini, vice president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “With the right investments, smallholders can feed a growing planet while at the same time restoring degraded ecosystems and reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint.”
IFAD’s focus is on rural poverty reduction, climate change adaptation and food security. But as the study demonstrates, climate-smart agriculture – practices that help farmers adapt to climate change by addressing their immediate needs like dealing with unpredictable rains or shifts in crop suitability – can lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The study finds that thirteen IFAD-supported adaptation projects could reduce CO2 emissions by 30 million tonnes, representing around 38 per cent of IFAD’s target to reduce 80 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020.
If smallholder adaptation can help reduce global emissions, there could be new opportunities, according to Sonja Vermeulen, head of research at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
“Currently over 90 per cent of public and private climate funds go to mitigation, not adaptation. For future food security it would be very helpful if the majority of the world’s farmers, who are smallholders, could access those funds,” she said.