Category: Agriculture

UNDP: Addressing Gender in Climate Change Policies for Agriculture

UNDP: Addressing Gender in Climate Change Policies for Agriculture

By UNDP Climate

Men and women often have different roles and responsibilities in society and therefore experience climate change impacts in different ways. This video shows what Colombia, Uganda and Viet Nam are doing to develop gender-responsive national adaptation plans for the agriculture sectors. This country-driven work is carried out under a global programme known as Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag), jointly coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of the material in the maps do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO and UNDP concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers.

Cover photo by FAO/Matthias Mugisha (CC BY-NC 2.0): Ugandan farmer.
FAO: Climate change is a key driver behind recent rise in global hunger

FAO: Climate change is a key driver behind recent rise in global hunger

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) recently released its annual flagship publication The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World stating that world hunger was on the rise for the third year in a row. The number of people facing chronic food deprivation had increased to almost 821 million in 2017, from roughly 804 million in 2016. Climate variability and extremes are two of the key drivers of this trend.

Worldwide trends

In 2017, the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU), or the percentage of undernourished people in the world population, reached 10.9 percent. According to the FAO, the main reasons for this deteriorating situation are instability in conflict-ridden regions, economic slowdowns in more peaceful regions, and adverse climate events. The most affected regions are Africa with a PoU of 21% and Asia with 11.4%. The worldwide trend indicates that without increased efforts by the international community, the world will fall short of the Sustainable Development Goals target to eradicate hunger by 2030.

Climate impacts food security and nutrition

Last year’s FAO report suggested conflict and violence were the main causes for food insecurity and efforts to fight hunger should go hand-in-hand with those that aim at sustaining peace. This year and thanks to new evidence, climate variability and extremes are added as a key factor influencing global hunger and a leading cause of food crises.

Since the early 1990s, the number of climate-related disasters has doubled. An average of 213 events per year have occurred between 1990 and 2016 with numbers rising dramatically after 1998.

Total number of natural disasters that occurred in low- and middle-income countries by region and during the period 1990–2016. Disasters are defined as medium- and large-scale disasters that exceed the thresholds set for registration on the EM-DAT international disaster database. See Annex 2 for the full definition of EM-DAT disasters. Source: FAO elaboration based on data from Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). 2009. EM-DAT [online] Brussels. www.emdat.be
Climate variability and climate-related extreme events are already impacting agricultural production of major crops in the tropics. A situation that will only worsen without adaptation measures.

Drought: biggest risk to agriculture

Food production is most severely affected by floods, tropical storms, and droughts. However, droughts impact it by far the most causing over 80% of the total losses and damages to agriculture.

Droughts have the potential to affect national food availability and access, impacting nutrition and increasing the national PoU.

Countries in Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia experienced drought through abnormally low accumulated rainfall and also through lower rainfall intensities and fewer days of rainfall.

Visit the digital report by clicking here and download the PDF by clicking here.


Cover photo by RobertoVi/Pixabay (public domain).
Filipino farmers advised to adapt to erratic rain

Filipino farmers advised to adapt to erratic rain

By Paul Icamina

[MANILA] Rainfall patterns are changing so much that farming schedules in the Philippines may no longer hold true, a public awareness campaign this month (August) heard.

Timely rainfall is considered vital for the growth and production of food crops. With the world’s climate changing, temperatures are influencing rainfall so that it is in excess in some areas and deficient in others, upsetting traditional farming cycles. Warming is also causing sea-level to rise and turn soils in coastal areas saline.

“We can no longer rely on traditional farming knowledge and practices”

– Anthony Payonga, Bicol University Graduate School

“The weather is no longer stable,” said Anthony Payonga, dean, Bicol University Graduate School, during the 8—10 August campaign organised by the Department of Science and Technology. “This has deep implications for Philippine agriculture.”

The changing trends were observed three years ago using rain gauges and validated by interviews and historical climate records. “Previously, the rainfall pattern was the same in areas extending 50—100 square kilometres, but now rainfall patterns are different in areas barely 3—4 kilometres away from each other.”

Payonga is lead researcher of the Bicol Agri-Water Project (BAWP), a five-year initiative to increase the knowledge and skills of farmers to adapt to climate change and improve harvests in the watersheds in Camarines Sur and Albay provinces.

“Cropping patterns must change and not just for rice but also for other crops. We can no longer rely on traditional farming knowledge and practices, but farmers continue to plant rice varieties that are susceptible to flooding during the June—July rainy season,” Payonga said.

“Farmers will now know what to do during flood and drought conditions,” says Marissa Estrella, director of the Bicol Consortium for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development, a BAWP research partner. “It brings complicated science down to the level of farmers’ understanding.”

The Bicol region is self-sufficient in rice, contributing seven per cent to national production. However, average yields declined from 3.41 metric tonnes per hectare in 2010 to 3.3 metric tonnes per hectare in 2011 due to “climatic aberrations”.

BAWP developed packages that included the production and distribution of rice varieties meant for areas prone to flooding, drought and salt intrusion, the latter when sea levels rise due to climate change. Buffer stocks now ensure access to quality seeds after extreme weather conditions.

Farmers get timely climate and weather information and provisions have been made for early warning systems, for example against pest infestations. The planting of alternative food crops such as white corn, cassava, sweet potato, banana and root crops is encouraged.

BAWP also set up climate field schools to train farmers. Bayani Abarquez, a farmer in Polangui, Albay province, who attended one of the schools, doubled harvests by using hybrid rice varieties and cropping and hazard calendars. He alternates chemical fertilisers with natural fertilisers and soil conditioners and uses fermented juices of chili, neem and madre de cacao against farm pests.


This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Asia & Pacific desk. This article was originally published on SciDev.Net and is shared under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0). Read the original article.

Cover photo by IRRI/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0): Filipino rice farmers in Laguna province incorporate rice straw, a good and abundant source of organic material, back in the field.

How to fight desertification and drought at home and away

How to fight desertification and drought at home and away

By Andrew Slaughter, University of Saskatchewan

A growing human population and runaway consumption are putting unsustainable pressures on the natural resources we depend on for survival. Our misuse and abuse of land and water is changing fertile land into deserts.

The word “desertification” conjures up images of the spread of existing deserts, with tall dunes spilling into villages and farmer’s fields. But it is actually a term that describes the way land can be transformed by climate variation and human activities, including deforestation, overgrazing (which causes erosion), the cultivation of unsuitable land and other poor land-use management decisions. We see this now in southern Africa, which has already lost at least 25 per cent of its soil fertility.

But not only developing countries are at risk. Almost 1 billion tonnes of soil is lost every year because of erosion resulting from poor land management in Europe alone. Desertification is one of the biggest environmental problems facing humanity, and has already affected over 40 per cent of the world’s population — 3.2 billion people.

Given that climate change could cause more frequent droughts and that population growth puts more pressure on natural resources, land degradation is an increasing global threat to food security, a contributor to poverty and a barrier to achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

It is clear that desertification is a problem of global proportions, requiring a unified strategy among all countries. If action is not taken now, desertification will accelerate, resulting in further migration and conflict.

Seeing the threat

Not all areas are equally at risk of desertification. Drylands, like those in the Karoo of South Africa and the prairies of Canada, are regions where evapotranspiration (the transfer of water from land and plants to the atmosphere) far exceeds precipitation.

Under natural conditions, drylands are characterised by slow cycles of changing climate and vegetation, moving from one stable state to another. More frequent and severe droughts and human disturbances, such as agriculture, grazing and fire, cause more abrupt shifts that can be irreversible.

The threat of land degradation is so widely recognized that the UN established the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) nearly 25 years ago, in 1994. It is a legally binding agreement between the partner nations to work together to achieve sustainable land management.

All member countries of the UNCCD recently agreed to fight desertification and restore degraded land by 2030. On June 17, Ecuador hosted the World Day to Combat Desertification, under the slogan “Land has true value – Invest in it,” and used the occasion to showcase the use of sustainable land management in developing the country’s bio-economy.

A tentative pledge

Despite its initial commitment to combat desertification, Canada withdrew from the UNCCD in 2013. The reasons were unclear, but it may have been because membership was seen as too costly, without obvious benefits for the environment. The departure left Canada as the only country not party to the agreement.

However, Canada rejoined last year, acknowledging the link between desertification and many of Canada’s development priorities. The factors driving land degradation are interconnected and include population growth and migration, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Current rates of global land degradation are in the order of 12 million hectares per year. And yet food production must increase by up to 70 per cent by 2050 to feed the projected global population of 9.1 billion people. Current land-management practices are clearly unsustainable.

The threatened area is so large that halting land degradation and scaling up solutions — from farms and villages to watersheds and continents — requires globally coordinated solutions. By rejoining the UNCCD, Canada can take its rightful place within a coordinated global effort to combat desertification — and strengthen its own efforts nationally.

Why Canada should care

Canada has already cooperated on a regional level with other countries to combat drought and minimize the impacts of reduced agricultural productivity, wildfires and water shortages.

In 2016, for example, when droughts hounded North America, burning Fort McMurray, Alta. and adding to California’s long-running water shortage, Canada cooperated with the United States and Mexico to minimize their impacts. The resulting North American Climate Services Partnership (NACSP) facilitated an early drought forecasting system and drought impact assessments.

In addition, Canada faces its own land degradation challenges. Most people associate dryland regions with a hot and dry climate. However, large parts of the Canadian Prairie provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — can be classified as drylands. They are also enormously important agricultural areas, accounting for 60 per cent of the cropland and 80 per cent of the rangeland in Canada.

The Prairies expect to see longer and more intense periods of drought interspersed with major flooding with future climate change. And although North America is one of five regions identified by the UN as facing relatively fewer challenges related to land compared to the countries most at risk, the region does face significant water stress challenges.

Way forward

The Paris Agreement recognized “safeguarding food security” as an important priority for climate change adaptation, which goes hand-in-hand with combating desertification.

The agricultural sector will play an important role in mitigating the impacts of climate change — and fighting land degradation. It can protect against drought, flooding, landslides and erosion, while maintaining natural vegetation, which helps store carbon in the soil. But agricultural production will also have to become more efficient. It will need to adapt to periods of lower water availability and take measures to preserve fertile soil. We must also look to how we manage our water resources to help agriculture adapt to climate change and stop desertification.

The University of Saskatchewan is currently developing tools that can be used by government and in research to predict and manage the water flow and water quality of Canada’s large river basins. This will allow water to be managed at the scale of entire river basins and help determine how industry, agriculture and mining can fairly share this limited resource.

The ConversationCanada has, for now, recognized the link between desertification and many of its development priorities, including agriculture, security, water and renewable energy. But we need to ensure the Canadian government remains committed to combating drought and desertification here — and in the rest of the world.


Andrew Slaughter is a visiting professor at the University of Saskatchewan. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Cover photo by Brad Helmink on Unsplash.
Scientists examine threats to food security upon meeting Paris climate targets

Scientists examine threats to food security upon meeting Paris climate targets

By Georgina Wade

The Paris climate agreement’s aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C or, at least, “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial temperatures requires a further understanding of the physical and social challenges for a warming world in both temperature scenarios.  To do this, scientists are studying the impacts of various emission reductions.

A new paper from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A examined the changes in climate extremes, fresh water availability, and vulnerability to food insecurity at a 1.5°C temperature rise compared to a 2°C target.

Using a set of impacts-relevant indices and a global land surface model to examine the projected changes in weather extremes and their implications for freshwater availability and vulnerability to food insecurity, the study finds climate-related vulnerabilities increase more at 2°C global warming than 1.5°C in approximately three-quarters of countries assessed.

The Hunger and Climate Vulnerability Index used in the study incorporates how exposed a country is to climate hazards, how sensitive a country’s agriculture is to climate hazards, and a country’s ability to adapt. With these metrics and indices calculated for 122 countries across the globe, the authors reveal that some areas will be more impacted than others.

For example, heavier rainfall will affect Asia more than other regions. However, increases to drought could hit Africa and South America hardest.

Increases in either heavy rainfall or drought events imply increased vulnerability to food insecurity, but if global warming is limited to 1.5°C, this vulnerability is projected to remain smaller than at 2°C global warming in approximately 76% of developing countries. At 2°C, the countries of Oman, Bangladesh Mauritania and Yemen are projected to reach unprecedented levels of vulnerability to food security.

Helping us identify the winners and losers in a warming world, this study can assist in driving policymakers to make decisions that will limit these temperature increases. From a practical matter, current climate change mitigation efforts are insufficient to hit either temperature target, but research is giving us some idea of where our actions could take us and highlights urgent adaptation needs.


Changes in climate extremes, fresh water availability and vulnerability to food insecurity projected at 1.5°C and 2°C global warming with a higher-resolution global climate model: Richard A. Betts, Lorenzo Alfieri, Catherine Bradshaw, John Caesar, Luc Feyen, Pierre Friedlingstein, Laila Gohar, Aristeidis Koutroulis, Kirsty Lewis, Catherine Morfopoulos, Lamprini Papadimitriou, Katy J. Richardson, Ioannis Tsanis, Klaus Wyser. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2018 376 20160452; DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0452. Published 2 April 2018. URL http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/376/2119/20160452

Cover photo by Dmitrij Paskevic on Unsplash
New approach puts theory of Climate-Resilient Agriculture into practice on the ground

New approach puts theory of Climate-Resilient Agriculture into practice on the ground

South Asia has a population of roughly 1.75 billion people, 25% of whom fall below the international poverty line, and 70% live in rural areas of whom the majority, especially women, rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Despite being predominantly agrarian, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal are net importers of food. Climate change adds further stress to this highly challenging socio-economic situation. Climate change, in the form of increased temperatures, erratic precipitation, uncertain seasons and increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, is expected to exacerbate food security challenges by impacting food production, disrupting supply chains and raising food prices.

Since 2014 the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme has been actively working in five South Asian countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan – to help national and sub-national governments mainstream adaptation to climate change into development planning and delivery systems. ACT has championed Climate-Resilient Agriculture (CRA) as an approach to increasing the resilience of agricultural systems on which billions rely. CRA is a subset of Climate-Smart Agriculture which has a broader focus that includes interventions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The ACT learning paper introduces a framework of practical entry points at the national and local level to operationalise CRA. The framework targets the full agricultural process from farm to market with the following entry-points for increasing resilience:

  • Policy and institutions;
  • Finance;
  • Information and knowledge management;
  • Technology and asset management.

The paper explores these entry-points through examples of CRA supported by the ACT programme. It also identifies and discusses the challenges and knowledge gaps that currently exist in interacting and working with governments and organisations on CRA and a set of overarching lessons from the programme.

South Asia will face increased warming, increased extreme temperatures (including heat waves), increased incidences of extreme precipitation and sea level rise as a result of climate change. This in turn carries the potential for social unrest, economic downturn and political upheaval and threats to national and local food security. Therefore, there is an urgent need to scale up climate resilient agriculture across South Asia. ACT’s framework provides a range of practical entry-points that can operationalise and scale-up CRA across the region.


The full ACT learning paper “Climate-Resilient Agriculture in South Asia: An analytical framework and insights from practice” and a learning brief can be accessed by clicking here.

Listen to the two 60-second audio abstracts:

ACT (Action on Climate Today) is an initiative funded with UK aid from the UK government and managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM).

For more information, please contact:

Cover photo by Nandhu Kumar on Unsplash.
United Nations led partnership with Green Climate Fund to support nearly 1 million farmers in Zambia

United Nations led partnership with Green Climate Fund to support nearly 1 million farmers in Zambia

US$137 million, 7-year project supported through UNDP in partnership with FAO and WFP works toward global goals for food security and poverty reduction.

The UN in Zambia (specifically the United Nations Development Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Food Programme) have joined forces together with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to assist the Government of Zambia in tackling serious climate change induced risks facing smallholder farmers.

The GCF Board approved US$32 million of climate finance in its board meeting this week, which together with US$125 million of co-financing leveraged by UNDP will support the Government of Zambia in building climate-resilient food security and poverty reduction measures for approximately 940,000 people.

Implemented by the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture, the US$137 of financing will strengthen the capacity of farmers to plan for climate risks that threaten to derail development gains, promote climate resilient agricultural production and diversification practices to improve food security and income generation, improve access to markets, and foster the commercialization of climate-resilient agricultural commodities.

In all, the Government of Zambia anticipates reaching over 3 million indirect beneficiaries through the project – approximately 18 percent of the total population – which will work in 16 districts within the Agro-Economical Regions of Mambwe, Nyimba, Chongwe, Luangwa, Chirundu, Rufunsa, Chama, Mafinga, Kazungula, Siavonga, Gwembe, Namwala, Shangombo, Senanga, Sesheke and Mulobezi.

“Farmers living in these districts are especially vulnerable to climate change risks, primarily increasing droughts, variability of rainfall and occasional floods. There is a high rate of poverty, meaning efforts to end hunger and poverty are at risk if we don’t take immediate action to adapt agricultural practices to changing climate conditions,” said Government of Zambia Permanent Secretary, National Development Planning Mr. Chola Chabala.

This intervention is a major contribution to meeting one of the key outcomes of the Seventh National Development Plan which deals with reducing poverty and vulnerability whilst contributing to economic diversification and job creation in Zambia.

The UN in Zambia, led by the United Nations Development Programme, and including FAO and WFP, working with national institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture and Zambia Meteorological Department, will deliver an integrated set of technical services that will help to advance key Sustainable Development Goal targets, especially in SDG2 and SDG13. The coalition will ensure that best practices from pilot climate resilience initiatives nurtured with the support of these organizations will be scaled-up to meet Government of Zambia’s targets on adapting its economy to climate change impacts.

Hunger and malnutrition are real and present risks in Zambia. Approximately 60 percent of people live below the poverty line, and 42 percent are considered extremely poor. According to WFP, over 350,000 people are considered food insecure, and roughly 40 percent of children experience stunted growth.  Climate change is expected to worsen these impacts by 30 percent by 2030, by 50 by 2050.

Given the unique role of women in agriculture and food provisioning, and their unique vulnerabilities to climate change, GCF resources will focus dedicated efforts on building climate resilience for female-headed houses and rural enterprises.

The project aligns with Zambia’s key development goals for poverty reduction and food security, as well as its goal to become a prosperous middle-income country by 2030.

Globally, efforts are underway to mobilize international finance for low-carbon climate-resilient development through climate finance mobilized through UNFCCC financing mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. This project signals an important step to mobilize these funds in Zambia, scale-up pilot climate resilience projects, and work toward achieving Zambia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.

In fulfilling its contribution to the Paris Agreement – and global goals to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees while ensuring no one is left behind in terms of economic and social development – the project will promote the conservation of water, improve the use of irrigation technologies, and strengthen climate information services.

“The UN in Zambia is delighted that this US$32 grant from the Green Climate Fund and the US$125 million of co-financing leveraged by UNDP will contribute to improving food security in the face of climate variations and introducing poverty reduction measures for approximately 940,000 people in Zambia,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms Janet Rogan.


For additional information please contact Lavender Degre, lavender.degre@undp.org or visit www.zm.undp.org

Cover photo by Sxfwaancr7/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

How to milk the coconut boom? Philippine farmers check their phones

How to milk the coconut boom? Philippine farmers check their phones

by Thin Lei Win

Generosa Gonato’s mobile phone beeped with a warning for the coconut farmer in the southern Philippines to be vigilant against bud rot, a common disease that is fatal for coconut trees. The message included the symptoms and how to treat it.

“So I monitored my trees and discovered some have it,” Gonato told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. She followed the advice – cutting down and destroying the affected trees quickly to stop the disease becoming an outbreak.

Gonato started receiving messages in October, telling her when and how to put down salt – a cheap way to boost coconut yields – how to spot pests, and how to better manage her finances.

The messages are part of FarmerLink, a pilot project set up by a consortium to make small-scale coconut farmers in the Philippines more resilient to shocks like natural disasters and pests, and increase their productivity.

Gonato, 57, has eked out a living farming coconuts with her husband for the past 40 years.

With a monthly income of $180 for a family of four, they borrow money regularly to make ends meet. But that is still a huge improvement from a decade ago, Gonato said.

She credits the rise in her income to soaring global demand for coconut, fuelled by the fruit’s use in an impressive array of food, household and industrial products – from shampoo and sports drinks, to synthetic rubber and construction materials.

Virgin coconut oil has also been marketed in some parts of the world as a “superfood” with health benefits.

As the world’s second largest producer of coconuts after Indonesia, the Philippines has made the most of this boom. In the month of February, coconut oil exports alone totalled $132.6 million, rising by two-thirds in a year.

FarmerLink, which covers Davao Province, one of the Philippines’ main coconut-growing regions, combines mobile technology with a more traditional method.

It sends out field workers armed with tablets who speak to farmers and register them in the system, geotagging their location so text messages are better targeted.

The project is led by the U.S.-based Grameen Foundation, which has worked on similar programmes in Uganda and Colombia, with a $250,000 grant from Michigan State University and $1 million from the Global Resilience Partnership, set up by The Rockefeller Foundation and the development arms of the U.S. and Swedish governments.

Poor despite billions

According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), a state agency, coconut farms are present in 68 of the Southeast Asian nation’s 81 provinces, taking up a quarter of agricultural land.

There are 3.5 million smallholder coconut farmers and 23 million people – nearly a quarter of the population – depend on coconut for their livelihoods, according to the Grameen Foundation.

Sixty percent of small-scale coconut farmers live on or below the poverty line of 20,000 pesos (around $400) per year.

“The main problem we’re trying to solve is that coconut farmers are part of a multi-billion dollar industry, yet they’re one of the poorest segments within the Philippines’ agricultural sector,” said Ana Herrera, programme manager at Grameen.

“We’re trying to couple technology with practical, actionable information for the farmers, sent directly to their phones,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The FarmerLink consortium groups the PCA, the Grameen Foundation, the People’s Bank of Caraga and companies including Franklin Baker, one of the world’s largest suppliers of desiccated coconut products.

Managing such a diverse group is challenging but brings bigger benefits, Herrera said.

For example, business partners can endorse their farmer suppliers to the bank if they need to borrow money.

And the government has seen how fast things can progress by using technology, Herrera said. Previously farmers were registered manually using paper forms, which could take months.

Information scarcity

Coconut farmers tend to be poor due to low productivity, lack of direct access to markets, limited financial services and losses due to pests and diseases, said Herrera.

Many coconut trees in the Philippines were planted more than half a century ago, in some cases as early as the end of World War Two, experts say. As coconut trees produce peak yields when they are between 10 and 30 years old, many are now past their prime.

An average tree in the Philippines produces 45 coconuts a year, but according to agricultural data firm Gro Intelligence, the best-producing trees can yield 75 to 150 coconuts a year.

Many farmers are also unaware of, or cannot afford high-quality inputs that could raise yields, and lack the power to negotiate better prices with middlemen.

Compounding these challenges is the Philippines’ vulnerability to natural disasters. More than a million farmers were affected and 33 million coconut trees damaged when Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines in 2013.

The grant that helped to launch FarmerLink ends next month, but Herrera said consortium partners are looking for ways to continue the programme.

Meanwhile, the service is expanding to include automated voice messages, starting with tips on going organic.

Ravi Agarwal, founder and CEO of engageSPARK, a social enterprise whose platform is used by Grameen to contact farmers, said voice messages are more powerful than text.

“(Mobile technology) is very important because most of these people live in an environment of information scarcity,” said Agarwal, whose company has clients spanning some 100 countries.

“They may not know that if they add salt to the base of the tree, it will make their trees healthier… Information empowers them to get out of subsistence and escape poverty over time,” he added.


($1 = 49.9870 Philippine pesos)

Reporting by Thin Lei Win, Editing by Megan Rowling. Read the original article on Zilient.org.

Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

Please credit Zilient, an initiative of The Rockefeller Foundation, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Blue State Digital and OnFrontiers. All rights reserved.

Cover photo by Paul David Lewin/Flicker (CC BY 2.0).
Climate change could alter the taste of Christmas

Climate change could alter the taste of Christmas

By Georgina Wade

Everyone knows that a holly jolly Christmas is never truly complete without a few festive dishes and treats thrown in. But with expected changes in weather patterns over the coming decades, your mince pies and mulled wine may not be as you remember. In fact, climate change is likely to impact the quality and quantity of some key winter spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

Nutmeg production is particularly vulnerable to climate change. According to the Climate Change Exposure Index (CCEI), 70 percent of global nutmeg production occurs within extreme risk countries. These ‘extreme risk’ countries are identified through high levels of poverty, exposure to climate-related events; and their reliance on flood and drought prone agricultural land. As Nutmeg is made up of surface roots which makes it increasingly susceptible to dry spells and high winds during its growth cycle, its vulnerability to these climate extremes is only exasperated.

As the world’s second largest exporter of nutmeg, Grenada’s arable lands present prime growing conditions for the nutmeg tree. But the surrounding highly hostile climate has presented challenges to the island state and its major export commodity in past years. The landfall of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Emily in 2005 destroyed over 60 percent of the nutmeg crop reducing exports from 2,300 to 1,100 tonnes according to the World Bank. And as nutmeg requires a decade for optimal growth, production of nutmeg in 2011 was still less than 15 percent of 2003 to 2004 volumes despite being twice as high as quantities during the hurricane aftermath.

This vulnerability from uncertain weather extremes extends to the production of cinnamon and cloves. In Indonesia, a major producer of both spices, mean temperatures may rise by up to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. Over the same period, the proportion of heavy rains is expected to double increasing flood risk to crops. Similarly, vanilla production in Madagascar is also being threatened by rising temperatures and extreme events. In March this year, Tropical Storm Enawo damaged about 30% of the island’s vanilla crop causing prices to double.

In some instances, adaptation programmes offer alternative solutions for countries to combat the impacts of changing climate on production. But the private sector remains key in driving these adaptation measures forward effectively through their ability to invest in such initiatives. While this can be an expensive endeavour, in the long term being proactive will not be as expensive as being reactive. For corporations set on meeting customer expectations through the quality and taste of their products, investments in adaptation can help protect their future bottom line. Through increasing awareness about the significance of climate change, including the private sector in national and international adaptation efforts, and engaging the private sector in developing products and services that can reduce the costs and impacts of climate change, these profitable cash crops (and your mulled wine) might just be saved.

 


Cover photo by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash
Climate change and cocoa: No more chocolate treats for Christmas?

Climate change and cocoa: No more chocolate treats for Christmas?

By Georgina Wade

During the holiday season, the abundant chocolate aisle at your local grocery store is a must-stop for your stocking fillers and general festive treats. But for those that cannot go a cold winter’s day without a warm cup of hot cocoa or a piece of chocolate orange, climate change may be your worst nightmare.

According to a study carried out by International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), many areas in West Africa will become unsuitable for cocoa growing as rainfall decreases and temperatures rise 1.2 °C by 2030 and 2.1 °C by 2050. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, which together account for 60% of global cocoa production, are predicted to experience a decrease in climatic suitability for cocoa that, if not addressed, could impact future world cocoa supplies.

The world’s third largest cocoa producing nation, Indonesia, may also face similar challenges. “Increasing temperatures will have a negative impact on cocoa productivity,” said Dr. Soetanto Abdoellah Chairman of the Indonesian Cocoa Board. “We have to be very concerned with this. An increase in temperature of 1-2°C will lower the yield more or less 10-15% (in Indonesia).”

In fact, cocoa yields have been decreasing for some time now. In the case of chocolate, climate change and unsustainable farming techniques have already decreased the amount of land for cocoa crops by 40% in the past four decades. According to an analysis by PwC and Geotraceability, the shortfall is expected to reach one million tonnes by 2020 at current production rates.

Despite all of this, you still have reason to keep your holiday spirits high with the number of policy actions being put in place to adapt cocoa production to climate change. A number of these can already be seen in Ghana where the Cocoa Research Institute is continuously developing drought tolerant, high-yielding and disease resistant cocoa planting materials and improved agronomic practices to sustain cocoa production and farmers’ livelihood. Additionally, chocolate manufacturers have joined the fight with chocolate giant Mars promising to spend close to $1 billion over the next few years fighting climate change.


Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash.