Agriculture, Landscapes, and Livelihoods Day

It has been a pleasure, in conjunction with Kibo Consulting, to assist the organizing committee for Agriculture, Landscapes, and Livelihoods Day in Doha during the UN climate change negotiations. The event drew hundreds of experts from around the world and was followed by an active on-line community discussing food security and natural resources management. Please follow the read more link to read the press release, or enjoy the outstanding opening panel session at

Over 500 Agriculture Experts Convene at Day-Long Event Held in Parallel with United Nations Climate Talks

Renewed Call to Action Issued for Negotiators to Include Agriculture in Addressing Global Climate Change Challenges

Doha, Qatar: Global agricultural leaders and practitioners come together today to share best practices and build consensus on policy recommendations from the sector at Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day, held in parallel with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently underway.

Our global food supply and the livelihoods of millions of farmers depend on a sustainable agriculture system, yet climate change is gravely threatening both. Specific actions on how agriculture can adapt to climate change remains absent from the UNFCCC discussions. Furthermore, it is reported that as much as 6 billion tons of CO2 could be saved annually by 2030 through improved agricultural techniques.

Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day seeks to identify scalable solutions, gaps and trade-offs in addressing climate change impacts for agriculture, the environment and farmers. The one-day event features a high level panel session and a series a roundtable discussions that focus on various climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that could safeguard global food security as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the agricultural sector.

Dr. Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security CCAFS), comments:

“We are heading for a four degree warmer world, yet are still without any major measures put in place by the UNFCCC to deal with adaptation in agriculture. Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day is about convening the people best equipped to get action going on the ground immediately to protect our environment and food supply.”

Nineteen organisations involved with the event also issued a call-to-action for negotiators to further consider a Work Program on Agriculture, the adoption of which would advance scientific and technical understanding and inform decision-making on agriculture’s role in addressing future food security and climate change challenges.

Dyborn Chibonga, Chief Executive Officer of the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and Farming First spokesperson comments:

“According to experts, yields in food-insecure continents such as Africa and South Asia could decrease by 15 percent and 18 percent respectively, due to climate change. Solutions already exist for countries such as my own that rely on rain-fed agriculture for their food, but they must be supported by a United Nations framework in order to be scaled up and brought to those most in need.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Solutions for People in Drylands and Beyond” and will highlight strategies that will improve agricultural productivity in dry regions, which are most vulnerable to climate change.

In the sidelines of the event, a new report, entitled Strategies for Combating Climate Change in Drylands Agriculture, was launched, offering a number of “climate smart” solutions for smallholder farmers in dry regions to reduce their vulnerability and increase their productivity. Countries such as Jordan and Morocco have seen increases in wheat yields of 20 percent and 17 percent respectively, due to some of the improved agriculture practices referenced in the report.

Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General of the International Centre of International Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) comments:

“One third of the world’s population lives in drylands, where access to water is becoming even scarcer due to climate change. Many of the answers to the problems faced by people in drylands regions exist, but they cannot succeed without adequate policies that ensure that the most effective innovations are put into action and that long-term funding and investment is available.”

Today’s event also marks the first occasion that Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day broadens its agenda, shifting discussions towards a combined consideration of agriculture, forestry and land use, and their impacts on society. It is held in conjunction with Forest Day 6, under the theme of “Living Landscapes”, exploring the interconnections between the two sectors and how a unified approach could hold sustainable solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Follow the discussions via the event’s social media channels:

Live webcast and blog:


Twitter: @AgricultureDay (Hashtag: #ALLForest)

Event photos (Flickr):

Rio +20

From an article written by Robynne Anderson for Gaftaworld, Issue 197, August 2012

Gaftaworld, Issue 197, August 2012You may have seen the media coverage suggesting Rio+20 “just settled” and “showed no ambition”. However, the needs of farmers and the importance of agriculture are well reflected in the final outcomes.

A two year process agreed UN text on trade and food price volatility within the food security section, plus a brief additional section specifically calling for greater trade liberalisation and conclusion of the Doha round.

Having represented the World Farmers’ Organisation through the negotiating process, it was a pleasure to see strong emphasis in the agriculture section on issues that can help farmers address food security and hunger. Read the entire article (PDF, 192KB)

Development after 2015

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has appointed his advisory panel for the Post 2015 Development Agenda. 2015 is a looming deadline for the UN because that is when the current Millennium Development Goals expire. Unfortunately many of them will go unmet, and the UN wants to regalvanize attention on key means to achieve sustainable development. The current progress report shows that good progress is being made on poverty, access for girls to eduction, , the fight against TB, and internet access. On the other hand, hunger remains an area where there is still a long way to go.

It is noteworthy that the sole private sector representative on the panel is Paul Polman from Unilever, a food company. With global crop prices rising, it is likely hunger will remain and important part of the agenda. For the agriculture community, it will be important to keep farming as the cornerstone of addressing the hunger challenge.

The relationship between this process and the new process on Sustainable Development Goals, flowing out of Rio+20 must also be clarified. Can the UN really afford to have two sets of overarching goals? In my opinion, bringing these processes together is essential. Until the UN achieves a higher level of accomplishment against existing goals, it cannot effectively manage two separate processes and different goals across the breadth of its operations.


David Cameron, UK Prime Minister

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian president

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesian President


Fulbert Géro Amoussouga (Benin) Heads Benin's economic analysis unit of the president of the republic of Benin.

Vanessa Petrelli Corrêa (Brazil) President of the Institute for Applied Economic Research, which conducts research to support the design and implementation of governmental policies and development programmes in Brazil.

Yingfan Wang (China) Member of the secretary general's MDG advocacy group and a career diplomat.

María Ángela Holguín (Colombia) Foreign minister of Colombia.

Gisela Alonso (Cuba) President of the Cuban agency of environment.

Jean-Michel Severino (France) Former director general of the French development agency.

Horst Köhler (Germany) President of Germany 2004-10.

Naoto Kan (Japan) Former prime minister of Japan. Now adviser to Japan's technical committee on renewable energy.

Queen Rania of Jordan An advocate for Unicef, the UN children's agency.

Betty Maina (Kenya) Chief executive of the Association of Manufacturers, one of Kenya's leading business organisations.

Abhijit Banerjee (India) Professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Co-founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab.

Andris Piebalgs (Latvia) Commissioner for development, European Commission.

Patricia Espinosa (Mexico) Secretary of foreign affairs.

Paul Polman (Netherlands) Chief executive of Unilever.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria) Minister of finance. Former managing director and vice-president at the World Bank.

Elvira Nabiullina (Russia) Economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, Russia's president.

Graça Machel (South Africa) A member of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work on human rights.

Sung Hwan Kim (South Korea) Minister of foreign affairs and trade.

Gunilla Carlsson (Sweden) Minister for international development co-operation.

Emilia Pires (Timor-Leste) Minister of finance.

Kadir Topbas (Turkey) Mayor of Istanbul and expert in urban rehabilitation.

John Podesta (US) Chair of the Centre for American Progress.

Tawakel Karman (Yemen) Journalist, human rights activist and politician. Awarded Nobel peace prize for promoting women's rights during the 2011 Yemeni uprising.

Amina Mohammed (ex officio) Special adviser to the UN secretary general on post-2015 development planning.

Mobilizing Knowledge for Agriculture

I was honoured to moderate an extraordinary panel of leaders from around the world who are delivering key projects to benefit farmer knowledge systems, when USDA hosted a session on "Mobilising knowledge for agriculture" at Rio+20. Extension and rural advisory services (RAS) are key to putting farmers’ needs at the centre of rural development, ensuring sustainable food security and poverty reduction, and dealing with risks and uncertainty. Knowledge sharing mechanisms must focus on critical areas including protecting natural resources, productive farming processes, product development, marketing skills, nutritional needs, and household health. Improving institutional capacity in extension will help us to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and any future Sustainable Development Goals.

Kristin Davis of the Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services shared a growing call on the five key pillars to revitalize knowledge systems in agriculture:

  1. focusing on best-fit approaches;

  2. embracing pluralism;

  3. using participatory approaches;

  4. developing capacity; and

  5. ensuring long-term institutional support.

Many thanks to Greg Crosby, the session host from USDA and a panel speaker, for his tireless dedication to e-extension and his kind invitation. He reviewed the means to link knowledge to action. Bridgit Muasa, a veterinary scientist and AWARD winner from Kenya, gave a dynamic presentation on the mobile tools be used in Kenya, including ICow.

Zeinab Al Moumany of Jordan spoke about the needs for economic empowerment as part of knowledge systems, particularly to address the challenges faced by rural women. Last and by no means least, Rajeev Chauhan spoke about the extension systems in India, one of the few countries that is really investing in extension and rural advisory services.

The session was streamed live and a recording can be found on and for part 2.

Canada Funds Key Ag Issues

The Canadian government has announced a program to direct $40 million of its programming budget for foreign assistance to key agricultural issues like grain storage, livestock vaccines, and fertilizer innovation. Interestingly the plan is to work with the private sector to leverage the relatively modest sum into greater funding.

Canadian support in the amount of $40 million over five years for AgResults - an innovative Canada-led initiative aims to improve food security in developing countries in close cooperation with the private sector. The announcement was made at the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, as part of a broader donor commitment of up to US$100 million in support of this initiative.

The governments of Australia, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are supporting this effort.

AgResults involves donors allocating relatively small amounts of public sector money to leverage private sector research and development on food security challenges that would otherwise go unaddressed due to market uncertainties. Public funds are only paid out to partners that demonstrate measurable results in targeted areas such as improving harvest management and nutritional fortification of staple foods.

Commonly known as an advanced market commitment, this type of approach emphasizes accountability and innovation.

In the coming years, the initiative will launch a series of pilot projects that address some of the biggest problems in global food security and agricultural development. The AgResults' portfolio of pilot projects will represent a diverse mix of agriculture and food security issues, testing different types of pay-on-results approaches in different regions around the world. The initial set, expected to start later this year, will focus on maize production in Sub-Saharan Africa, including:

  • Incentivizing the adoption of on-farm storage technology for smallholder farmers;

  • Encouraging innovative distribution of a breakthrough technology to reduce aflatoxin contamination; and

  • Building a market for new vitamin A-enhanced varieties of maize.

Additional projects will be explored in the coming years, including livestock vaccines and fertilizer innovation, as well as new ideas related to increasing crop yields, decreasing post-harvest losses, increasing livestock productivity and improving nutrition.

The model has already shown success in pulling private sector knowledge and resources towards the development of an affordable vaccine against pneumococcal disease - a disease that kills millions of children each year in developing countries. With the first vaccines delivered in late 2010, this initiative is expected to save an estimated 7 million lives by 2030. Canada made a significant contribution of $200 million in Budget 2007 to this initiative.

AgResults builds on Canada's leadership in financing innovative development initiatives internationally. Canada has previously supported the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Finance Challenge, launched at the Toronto G-20 Summit in June 2010, and the private sector component of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, launched in April 2010. Canada, with other G-20 Leaders, committed to exploring the potential of innovative initiatives at the Toronto G-20 Summit, and is pleased to be following through on this commitment.

Canada's contribution of $40 million for AgResults is being provided through existing Government of Canada resources for international assistance. Funds from donor countries will be managed by the World Bank.

Get Excited

Farm Credit Canada is championing a new initiative called “Agriculture. More Than Ever.” This program includes a number of activities aimed at improving the awareness and perception of agriculture. Phase 1 of the initiative is targeted at the agricultural industry - as stakeholders in our own large and growing industry, we have an opportunity do our part to enhance our image and reputation. Phase 2 will expand the message and take it to the general public.

The Agriculture More Than Ever initiative asks people to “Tell their story” and share their experiences. Kim McConnell, founder of AdFarm and one of this year’s inductees into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame, shares his thoughts on why agriculture is worth getting excited about. Part of the message is jobs, jobs, jobs:

Food is Our Common Ground: Diets, Land Use and Emissions

Food and emissions make for complex choices. Please see the latest article from Sonja Vermeulen of CCAFS (part of the CGIAR system) that illustrates the challenges and the fact that there is more than one response around the world:

One inconvenient truth about food and climate change is that total emissions from agriculture must increase to feed growing populations with changing dietary demands. Indeed, the widely cited estimate from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) that we will need 70% more food by 2050 (PDF) has recently been revised upwards to 100% +/- 11%. A more detailed picture of the future size and shape of this food demand emerges in Global changes in diets and the consequences for land requirements for food, by Thomas Kastner, Maria Jose Ibarrola Rivas, Wolfgang Koch and Sanderine Nonhebel, a recent article that presents historical FAO datasets in a new format.

Kastner and co-authors’ innovation is to calculate and show how our total calorie consumption is divided among different types of food, and then how much land is required for each of these food types, both for the world as a whole and for each of 17 major geographic regions. The consumption data alone provide a fascinating portrait of global nutritional diversity. Did you know, for instance, that Central Africans are the world-record root-eaters, and Southern Europeans the world-record fruit-eaters.

The analysis busts the myth that diets are rapidly becoming richer across all developing countries, moving towards a static, Western endpoint. The reality is that developing regions vary widely in their trajectories – most sobering is the marked decline in average calorific intake across “Middle Africa” over the past half century. Plus Western diets are in flux. For example, North American calorie consumption has increased markedly since 1961, mainly due to rising use of sugars and vegetable fats rather than of animal products, which have remained constant at about 1000 calories per capita.

Extrapolating from consumption to land use provides further insights. Particularly interesting is that between 1963 and 1984, expansions in land requirements for crops were largely associated with population growth, and for many regions were compensated by land savings due to improving technology. After 1984 a greater proportion of agricultural expansion was associated with changes in diets, and technology was less successful as a buffer.

What of the future? The authors caution that feeding nine billion people at the levels of consumption found in North America, Oceania and Europe will require a doubling of current cropland, and further that technology-based land savings are usually based on much higher inputs of fossil fuels, fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation infrastructure. Also, the study under-represents the true extent of land and resource use for human food production, as the FAO data do not include pastureland for grass-fed livestock, nor fisheries.

In short, unless there are severe curbs on high-end food consumption (along the lines of permanent wartime rations), food-related emissions will rise, through a combination of land conversion and more input-intensive farming. But the good news is our impressive capacity for adaptation: as the authors’ analyses show, human diets are not on a one-way demand-driven path, but instead are surprisingly flexible over time, influenced by what’s most available and affordable locally and through trade.

Female Face of Farming

Back in March, Farming First launched its infographic on the female face of farming. Since then it has attracted a lot of attention to the fact that women represent 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries and account for an estimated two-thirds of the world's 600 million poor livestock keepers. Despite this, their access to productive resources is limited. In many societies, laws, tradition and access bar women from owning and inheriting land. Moreover, where women hold land, their plots are generally smaller, of an inferior quality, and with less secure rights than those held by men.

In the first week of its launch, the infographic had a twitter reach of 1,429,731 and there were 40 pieces of media coverage, including the Guardian and the New Agriculturalist. And people are really exploring the facts. The average visit time on the page was 4 minutes and 18 seconds. We love that you love it!

Visit to learn more. It is tweetable and embeddable.

Farming First - Women in Agriculture


My thoughts on the state of the negotiations concerning agriculture at the UN Conference of Sustainable Development were picked up at AlertNet, the Thomson Reuters Foundation news service:

From Pledges to Progress: G8 Leaders Must Take Action Now

On the eve of the G8 summit, G8 and African leaders met to discuss new commitments on food security and the opportunity and benefits of private sector investment in African agriculture and food sectors. With the likes of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Presidents of Tanzania and Ghana, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, corporate leaders and agricultural organizations all in attendance, the message is abundantly clear. Groups from farmers to development agencies have made it clear: If we don't act soon, the situation will worsen and not only from climate change and political instability, but from economic factors such as rising food prices and unemployment.

Read the full story on the Huffington Post: