The Future of Farming

Woman farming

By WONNE Afronelly

The Climate is changing, sea levels rising, temperatures increasing. Humankind is waking up to the fact that anthropogenic activities have a destructive impact on the planet.

According to a 2019 UN report on Biodiversity, agriculture and farming work against nature and account for 70 percent of tropical deforestation and one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

Alternatively, farming and agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes, and improve food security for 80% of the world's poor, who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming.

While many are moving from subsistence to commercial farming practices, it is pertinent to understand safer, healthier practices for the planet. 

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA)

Simply put, farming sustainably means producing more with less.

As the populations grow and driving up the demand for food, we need to develop an integrated approach to managing landscapes—farmland, livestock, forests, and fisheries--that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. We need to meet the current global need for food without compromising future generations' ability to meet their needs.

It is important to note, however, that sustainable farming is not the same as organic farming.

 

 

Woman harvesting rice

With organic farming, commercial food is grown or raised without synthetic chemicals, but can still disturb the ecosystem. Sustainable agriculture (usually small scale) does not disrupt the ecosystem.

Most importantly, agricultural adaptation requires considering both human and physiographic challenges responsible for environmental change in specific contexts. In as much as indigenous knowledge remains vital, dealing with the drivers of food production stagnation will also involve comprehensive and dynamic policy changes.

CSA offers an integrative approach to adaptation within the context of agriculture that involves services to farmers and farm activities to create greater resilience of farming systems in the face of environmental change and reduce the ecological footprint. Another way of thinking about it is as a way of combining various sustainable methods to tackle the specific climate challenges of a particular farming community

Objectives of Climate Smart Agriculture

CSA aims to increase food production, increase farming systems' resilience to environmental change, and increase agricultural systems sustainability through reduced Green House Gases (GHGs) and environmental footprints emanating from agriculture. 

The options for CSA should be like the word "SMART" itself:

S  - Specific

M - Measurable

A - Attainable

R - Relevant

T - Time-Bound

Climate Smart Agriculture Practices and Techniques 

These practices sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience, and reduce or remove greenhouse gases (GHGs). These techniques require planning to address trade-offs and synergies between the CSA three pillars: productivity, adaptation, and mitigation.

Practices such as the locally practiced conservation agriculture aim at retaining crop residues for soil fertility, disturbing the soil as minimally as possible, conserving soil moisture, and diversifying through rotation or intercropping.

Tomato farming

Techniques and practices

Permaculture: a type of organic farming that attempts to best use land so that generations in the future can continue to make use of the land in productive manners, allowing for personal subsistence.

  • Using Renewable Energy Resources
  • Aquaponics and Hydroponics
  • Growing Trees amongst other plants
  • Crop Rotation & Polycultures

Men workers crop picking

Characteristics and benefits 

  • Addresses climate change
  • Maintains ecosystems services
  • Integrates multiple goals and manages trade-offs
  • CSA is context-specific, meaning what is Climate Smart in one location may not be Climate Smart in another
  • Engages women, marginalized and most vulnerable groups and to achieve food security goals and enhance resilience
  • CSA has multiple entry points at different levels

Although Climate smart agriculture is an emerging innovative form of farming, it has proven to be very instrumental in solving various problems, including poverty and hunger eradication, food security, improved livelihoods, healthy work and lifestyles, and more. Adopting Climate Smart Agriculture would help in realizing most of the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Environmentalist and journalist WONNE Afronelly reports on municipal water systems, fisheries management and environmental sustainability issues as a writer for many years in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Photos :Johny Goerend, Zoe Schaeffer, Nandhu Kumar, Marku Spiske, Tim Mossholder