The International Fund Agricultural Development, IFAD, on Saturday, charged world leaders to increase investment to assist small-scale farmers to adapt to climate change, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across various economies and endangering survival through food production and availability.
The warning came from the President of IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo, ahead of next week’s Climate Adaptation Summit.
According to Houngbo it is urgent for the heads of government and the private sector to heavily invest in small-scale farmers in climate change issues adversely affecting agriculture.
He also described the situation as unacceptable, where small-scale farmers who produce much of what the entire world consumes, but are relegated to the background and left to face unpredictable weather patterns.
He said: “It is unacceptable that small-scale farmers who grow much of the world’s food are left at the mercy of unpredictable weather patterns, with such low investment to help them to adapt.
“They do little to cause climate change, but suffer the most from its impacts. Their increasingly common crop failures and livestock deaths put our entire food system at risk.
“It is imperative that we ensure they remain on their land and sustainably produce nutritious food. If not, then hunger, poverty and migration will become even more widespread in the years to come.”
It will be recalled that the United Nations announced that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record, although with catastrophic temperature rises expected this century.
Based on this assertion and announcement by the UN, the IFAD boss will announce the launch of IFAD’s Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+) at the Climate Adaptation Summit on 26 January, alongside IFAD’s Goodwill Ambassadors Idris and Sabrina Elba who will discuss the topic with Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium, and Dag Inge Ulstei, Norway’s Minister of International Development.
Also according to a report released by IFAD at the end of 2020, only 1.7 per cent of global climate finance that is a fraction of what is demanded is given to ‘foot soldiers’ of world’s food production, small-scale farmers, in developing countries despite their disproportionate vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
ASAP+ intends to change this. It is envisioned to be the largest fund dedicated to channeling climate finance to small-scale producers. It aims to mobilise US$500 million to reduce climate change threats to food security, lower greenhouse gases and help more than 10 million people adapt to weather changes. Austria, Germany, Ireland and Qatar have already pledged commitments.
ASAP+ will focus on low income countries that depend the most on agriculture and face the greatest challenges in terms of food insecurity, rural poverty and exposure to climate change.
It aims to bring 4 million hectares of degraded land under climate resilient practices, and sequester around 110 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over 20 years. It will also help countries achieve their nationally determined contributions set under the Paris agreement.
Meanwhile, Director Climate Change Division, IFAD, Jo Puri, said, “Small-scale farmers in rural areas play a pivotal role in ensuring sustainability, stability, and security in the world. Climate adaptation funding must not leave them behind.
“ASAP+ will contribute to the global call for reducing greenhouse gases while ensuring significant income-related benefits for rural farmers and other vulnerable people.”
According IFAD, small-scale farming systems currently produce half of the world’s food calories, but are often entirely reliant on natural resources, including rain.
As a result, they are at significant risk from increasing temperatures, erratic rainfall, pest infestations, rising sea levels, and extreme events such as floods, droughts, landslides, typhoons and heat waves.
Also recent research supported by IFAD shows that, “The production of important staple crops such beans, maize, and cassava could decrease by as much as 50 to 90 per cent by 2050 in parts of Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe due to climate change, which would result in substantial increases in hunger and poverty.
“If nothing changes, climate change could push more than 140 million people to migrate by 2050. Price volatility is also expected, as natural disasters in one part of the world can cause the price of grain everywhere to increase by more than 50 per cent.
“ASAP+ builds on IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) which has already channeled $300 million to more than 5 million farmers in 41 countries with investments in promoting climate-sensitive agricultural techniques and nature-based solutions, and access to infrastructure and technologies such as small-scale irrigation, rainwater harvesting systems, weather information and drought- and flood-resistant crops.”