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How smart is `Climate Smart Agriculture’ .to environment, food security

With the impact of climate change being felt on food systems around the world, and with the contribution of agriculture to global emissions also gaining attention, experts are focusing on climate change.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Clima…


With the impact of climate change being felt on food systems around the world, and with the contribution of agriculture to global emissions also gaining attention, experts are focusing on climate change.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes, cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.

However, stakeholders have expressed concern that the term could be used to green-wash industrial agricultural practices that could harm food production in the future.

Though climate smart agriculture is gaining attention and acceptance among stakeholders, including researchers and policy makers, there is growing concern about what smart ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ really is.

With most of the world’s largest fertiliser and synthetic agrochemical manufacturers among the promoters of climate change, it the sincerity behind the said Climate Smart Agriculture comes under
scrutiny.

According to an ActionAid Nigeria report, some governments and NGOs also worry that pressure to adopt Climate Smart Agriculture could lead to complications in the food systems of developing countries, with its attendant negative fallouts.

These worried stakeholders say that their agriculture systems have not contributed as much to the problem, but that going the Climate Smart Agriculture way could actually limit their ability to effectively adapt to the climate challenges ahead.

They argue that there are no identifiable yardsticks for determining what ‘Climate Smart’ is, since entities that could be destructive to the climate, the farmers, and the environment, also freely use the word Climate Smart Agriculture.

Mr Bowie Attamah, a legal practitioner and an environmentalist said promoters of industrial scale mono-cropping were jumping on the ‘Climate Smart’ bandwagon, claiming that they proffer solutions to climate change.

‘The same so-called ‘green revolution’ industries that have been widely c
riticised for their significant contribution to climate change and their negative environmental and social impacts on farmers and food systems.

‘The have simply re-branded themselves as ‘Climate Smart’ and continued as before.

‘Synthetic fertilisers, for example, contribute significantly to climate-change greenhouse gases while large-scale industrial livestock production has been shown to be a major contributor to climate change.

‘Ultimately, there are no means to ensure that ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ is actually smart for the climate, for agriculture, or for farmers,” he said.

Attamah said that synthetic fertilisers contribute to climate change as the creation of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers is energy-intensive, burning large amounts of fossil fuels and leading to high CO2 emissions.

‘When applied to the soil, they can release Nitrous Oxide (N2O), a highly potent greenhouse gas that has 298 times the atmospheric warming effect of CO2”, he said.

‘There are, therefore, significant concerns that des
tructive agribusinesses are able to use climate rhetoric and the general confusion over the term ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’, to provide ‘green-wash’ cover to their activities.

‘This enables them to expand into new markets such as Africa while undermining local economies, ecosystems, seed diversity and farmers, in the process.

‘So, I’m skeptical when I hear people who are destroying the environment claiming that that they also practice climate smart agriculture”, Attamah told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

However, stakeholders have advocated the embrace and growth of organic and agroecological farming practices to enhance the health of the environment and its habitants, as well as food and nutrition security on the African Continent.

Experts say agroecology is an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems.

They believe that farmers and food security would be better served through the implemen
tation of specific, meaningful and tested strategies such as agroecology.

Prof. Olugbenga AdeOluwa, the Coordinator, Organic and Agroecology Initiative (ORAIN), said that needs to upscale its organic and agroecology practices to bring the continent to the forefront of having a secure food system and safe environment.

AdeOluwa also said that there is a need to improve local development for export business in organic agriculture to improve the continent’s GDP.

‘Capacity building of strategic practitioners in the organic agricultural sector of Nigeria is needed to contribute to food security, income generation, employment, systems resilience, among others’, he said.

Another expert, Mrs Joyce Brown, Programme Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), said that promoting agroecology would protect the environment, the earth and help in attaining food security.

Brown said that another reason for promoting organic and agroecological practices is due to the understanding that industrial agriculture is
not healthy.

She, therefore, urged government sensitise the masses on the economic importance of organic and agroecology farming.

‘Other methods of farming destroy the ecosystem and the introduction of GMOs also will lead to loss of biodiversity even as climate change contributes its own impact to the agriculture food system,’ she said.

Experts have argued that agricultural production systems in many developing countries, which are usually far less industrialised, have done the least to contribute to the global problem of climate change.

They argue that supporting their agriculture to adapt to changing weather conditions should be the greatest priority, and that they should not be obliged to take on more than their ‘fair share’ of mitigation commitments in agriculture.

They say developed countries, which have intensive production and high consumption models of agriculture, should consider changing their agricultural practices, while allowing developing countries to focus on their adaptation needs.

They
say climate smart agriculture should not be a proxy to force developing countries to carrying more than their fair share of climate change mitigation, nor to let developed countries off the hook.

The idea of climate smart agriculture may sound appealing to many organisations and governments but should be approached with caution because of the risk of harmful green-wash agricultural practices.

There is a great need to make a distinction between developed nations, who are largely responsible for climate change, and developing nations who are the least victims of this phenomenon.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria