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CFI International Stewardship Symposium Key Messages

Emerging ag team members Robynne Anderson and Morgane Danielou attended the International Stewardship Symposium in Calgary July 14-15, 2015. Hosted by the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, the second event of its kind included delegates from government, NGOs, farming, agri-retail, and all aspects of the crop nutrients sector. During the two day event, speakers from across the globe highlighted the fact that the public expects and needs agriculture to produce more with less environmental impact and more social inclusion.

CFI International Stewardship Symposium Key Messages (161KB)
CFI International Stewardship
Symposium Key Messages (161KB)

Stewardship techniques and new technologies are essential to these goals. Knowledge-sharing will underpin the success of these endeavours and groups must work co-operatively, especially smallholder farmers. Throughout the sector, agriculture must embrace change and act more strongly.

Aspirations expressed by the participants were:

  • Protect Soils
  • Improve livelihoods for smallholders
  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Improve Water Quality

Opening remarks with Chuck Magro, CEO Agrium Inc.

  • Safety – essential for sector to get that right
  • Farmers – need for knowledge to advance next generation
  • Environmental Stewardship – furthering 4R programmes
  • Innovation and Technology – US farmer productivity up by 100% with a 5% increase in total nutrient use.

Framework for Increasing Soil Quality

Hlami Ngwenya, Consultant, Global Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS)
Barbara J. Cade-Menun, Ph.D Rsearch Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
Ajay Markanday, Director, FAO Liaison Office for North America (LOW)
Terry Tindall Ph.D, Senior Agronomist, J.R Simplot Company

  • Soil quality is defined by the purpose of the soils. Are they sustaining what they are supposed to?
  • Developing and maintaining healthy soils is a continuous process. Learning from larger scale farms can be transferred to smaller.
  • The social aspect of enabling farmers is essential and they must be respected and empowered through local organisations.
  • The policy and financing systems have been inadequate to support the growth and importance of agriculture.

International Year of Soil 2015

Barbara J. Cade-Menun, Ph.D Rsearch Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
President of the Canadian Society of Soil Science and the Chair of CSSS’s Yeaar of the Soil Committee. She is also Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s representative of the Year of Soil.

  • There are many great tools to highlight the importance of soils in 2015 and every year.
  • The importance of soil is under-recognised.
  • The Canadian team pulled together materials for children’s resources to build learn about soils.

Better Access to Inputs for Smallholders

Kevin Tiessen, Senior Program Specialist, Agriculture and Food Security, IDRC
Hlami Ngwenya, Consultant, Global Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS)
Ingrid Fischer, Director of Programs, Canadian Co-operative Association
Laurence Dare, East Africa Policy Manager, One Acre Fund

  • Smallholder farmers have the ability to self-organize and need to be supported to do so
  • Cooperatives are private enterprises that serve a unique service to farmers providing access to extension, finance, technology, marketing, quality control
  • Women farmers need access to knowledge, information, technology and need to be reached by extension services
  • A comprehensive approach is needed when delivering services to smallholder farmers to deal with each barrier

8 Great Ideas

  1. Upgrading retail market systems in Sub-Saharan Africa
  2. Equipping smallholders for markets through local organizational development and aggregation of power
  3. Linking microdosing, warrantage, and input shops to benefit smallholder farmers
  4. Increase access to agro-processing such as economic development zone in Malawi
  5. Smallholders’ Co-operatives to share and reduce logistics costs
  6. Development of inexpensive, efficient livestock vaccines
  7. Africa Fertilizer Volunteer Program to get experts
  8. Teach farming at schools Manyinga School in Zambia

Climate Smart Agriculture

Ajay Markanday, Director, FAO Liaison Office for North America (LOW)
Eric Robinson, Alternate Permanent Representative of Canada to the Food and Agriculture Agencies of the UN
Anette Engelund Friis, Head of Program Coordination on Climate Chance, Agriculture and Food Security, CGIAR Research Program
Ben Pratt, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, The Mosaic Company
Dr. Kaushik Majumdar, Director of Programs for South Asia, International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)
Tim Nerbas, Agrologist, Soil Conservation Council of Canada

  • Agriculture is an important emitter of GHG with only forestry being a major sink
  • “Save and Grow” is an FAO publication that helps outline how to sustainably intensify agriculture to meet future food demand
  • At the upcoming COP negotiations in Paris, France and FAO will co-host an event on food security and climate
  • A Global Coalition on Climate Smart Agriculture has been formed and is hosted at FAO
  • The public expects absolute reductions in agricultural emissions of GHG even with rising food demand.
  • The sector has been challenged to meet pressures on environmental impact the 4R programme is a solution, but the bar is high to deliver. Be braced that regulation is coming.
  • Use of information technologies and insurance are tools to increase efficiency of input use.
  • Practices are needed to help farmers deal with climate change. The Nutrient Expert Decision Support Tool is a way to use the 4R to improve farmers production.
  • Management can sequester carbon in the soil but changes in management can release that carbon and put soils at risk. Vertical tillage and other fall work can harm gains.
  • If major changes are needed to achieve both adaptation and mitigation, who is going to pay? Almost certainly developed farmers will and potentially developed-country consumers.

Moving Climate Smart Agriculture Ahead

Patrick Heffer, Senior Director, Agriculture Service, International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA)

  • Global Coalition on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) lacks clarity and there is an interest in participating but groups need more direction and openness.
  • Create an incentive for farmers to manage capital expense of converting to CSA
  • Encourage CSA and certification of farms
  • Fostering better alignment between NGOs and private sector
  • Develop metrics to determine how existing programme align with CSA

Metrics for Sustainable Agriculture

Rosemary O’Brien, Vice President Public Affairs, CF Industries
Dr. Xuhua Zhong, Guangdong Acadamy of Agricultural Sciences, The Rice Research Institute
Nishan Majarian, CEO and Co-Founder, Agrian Inc.
Mogens Nielsenm Projecct Manager, Yara Denmark

  • Startling figures of the growth of investment in big data and technology applied to agriculture, move from 200 million US$ in 2012 to 2.3 billion US$ in 2014
  • The 3-controls technology has helped reduce N loss and pesticide use providing solutions to more sustainable rice production in China
  • 4R + “with a record”, new technologies leverage data: controllers, robots, satellites, drones
  • Yara is adopting many new technologies (NUE, water & landscape management,) to address the strong regulations imposed by the EU and Danish government

In the wrap up, Clyde Graham of CFI noted the commonalities in the two day session. Specifically:

Barriers to Sustainable Agricultural Success

  • The sector is challenged to meet public expectations on environmental impact.
  • Rule of Law (NOT RULING!)
  • Soil degradation is real.
  • 1.3 billion Farmers makes change hard to deliver.
  • Policy and financing systems have abandoned farmers.
  • Female farmers don’t get their due.
  • Conventional wisdom about soil management is often false.
  • Inadequate infrastructure and distribution systems

Solutions to Achieve Sustainable Agricultural Success

  • Co-operatives and farm groups to aggregate the power of individuals. (MANY STICKS HARD TO BREAK!)
  • Women farmers need access
  • Bundled approach is needed
  • Use of information technologies and insurance
  • Practices are needed to help farmers deal with climate change (e.g. The Nutrient Expert Decision Support Tool)
  • Data must underpin analysis
  • Incentives will be needed

For more information on this event visit

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
2050 is not far away.


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