Time for a New Agricultural Revolution

Posted on 04 December 2011 by admin

Busani Bafana interviews to KANAYO F. NWANZE, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 4 (IPS) – The combined effects of ballooning populations, poor productivity and threatened water resources present fresh pressures on agriculture to deliver food, money and livelihoods in Africa.

The food system needs urgent reform in the face of climate change which accelerating the speed of change on the farms and on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) told IPS reporter Busani Bafana that changing the course means a new agriculture revolution that delivers smart solutions to the current challenges posed by climate change.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Kanayo F. Nwanze

Q: Why a new revolution now?

A: The whole discussion we are having right now is basically how to achieve a climate smart agriculture which essentially means getting the maximum out of smallholder farmers who make up the large population of farmers in Africa and who are mostly women. They have to have access to basic inputs and financial services. If it will be climate smart, it has to respond to all the current issues that have to do with the impact of climate change on agriculture.

We have to talk about sustainable agricultural systems. The Green Revolution was successful because it focused on very clear messages: increase fertiliser use, increase improved seeds and irrigation. But we found out in the long term that it is not sustainable. So now we need to look for sustainable approaches to production that do not destroy the environment and are available to a wide spectrum of farmers in Africa and in the world as a whole and that help farmers to adapt to climate change and to be able to mitigate by their own activities. This is sustainable intensified agriculture.

A new green revolution is needed to meet the challenge of feeding more than nine billion people in 2050. There is no magic bullet for eliminating hunger overnight because I do not believe that ideas can feed people. Ideas for a new green revolution are needed and climate smart agriculture can deliver those ideas.

Q: Agriculture is threatened by many factors, what is the first step to make it sustainable?

A: The first step we need to take is on the policy agenda. We must have a commitment from the highest level of policy makers of government to say agriculture is a priority and they must put their money where their mouth is.

Q: You have expressed concern with the slow progress of negotiations. What are your expectations?

A: We are dealing with an issue that transcends what we call simple equations. You are dealing with an issue that brings a lot of political arguments and then people lose the sense of priority. It becomes very slow.

We are negotiating a political issue and there are a lot of things at stake. We are negotiating simple issues that are founded on facts and are fact-based arguments. Some people today are still denying there is climate change. How do you negotiate with someone who does not believe? That is the problem we have. We need real leadership. South Africa is doing a fantastic job leading this whole argument of putting agriculture on the agenda.

One sentence on agriculture is key. What is it? Agriculture drives economic growth and social development.

It is impacted by climate change but agriculture is also a solution to climate change because agriculture is at the cross roads of food security and climate change. So we cannot ignore it in climate smart business.

Q: Agriculture is facing challenges, but what have we done well in agriculture development in Africa?

A: Ten years ago you would not hear people talking about agriculture because it was always at the bottom of the pile but with the events of 2007/8 with the (food) price hikes and volatility, with riots, now people say agriculture equals food security, food security equals political stability and global peace. With that kind of linkage, you cannot ignore agriculture and that is something we have done well.


2 Comments For This Post

  1. Rajan Alexander Says:

    Just like bio-fuels, a few years from now, CSA will be exposed not to be make development sustainable but poverty and hunger sustainable.

    Read: http://devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com/2011/11/oxfams-and-actionaids-climate-smart.html

  2. Francis Shaxson Says:

    Conservation Agriculture (as defined by FAO) – when effectively applied – has potentials for: improving health and biological quality of soil already damaged by misuse; improving rainwater infiltration; buffering the soil surface against damaging rainfall-impact, thus minimising runoff and erosion; extending duration of plant-available water in the soil in dry periods; favouring bio-diversity in the soil; increasing storage and availability of nutrients to the plants; improving the interactions of four components of soil productivity (physical, chemical, biological, hydrological); improving stability of crop yields; improving sustainability of farming; improving socio-economic conditions for farm families. All very relevant in terms of ‘climate-smart’ agriculture, and concerns about security of future food supplies. There are persuasive examples in many countries of the world already, and growing. What are we waiting for? Informed, enthusiastic and long-term backing by decision-makers. Refer to FAO’s recent publication ‘Save and Grow’ on its website.

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