Today, more of us recognise the importance of climate impact. We try to take stock and do what we can to have less of a negative impact on the world. We realise most industries and other areas are far greater contributors to the harm done to the planet. That, however, is not reason for us not to take an active interest in how we conduct ourselves. One group, in particular, are trying to do better: those in agriculture. The difficulty is in precisely what they can do to lessen the impact of their work.
Agriculture and environmental impact
There are some alarming facts regarding agriculture we need to consider. As AlterNet highlights:
“Research suggests that crop yields will begin to decline as soon as 2030 due to increased heat and shifting weather patterns from climate change. We have lost half of all the topsoil on earth in the last 150 years as a result of monoculture farming, deforestation, and overgrazing (much of which can be traced to animal agriculture).”
It should not be the case that we live in a world where so many lack fresh water, but so many farms use as much fresh water for livestock as one household in three years. Farmers themselves are not ignorant about these facts, but often find themselves in positions where it’s difficult to find alternatives. After all, farms have to stay afloat, amidst the rapidly changing climate and unpredictable market. This means using somewhat harmful technology and techniques.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. Guy Smith, of the British National Farmers Union, told FG Insight:
“The irony is that with exciting current developments in technology such as robotics, GPS guidance, remote sensing and camera recognition, farmers increasingly have the ability to farm more precisely and thus reduce their GHG footprint, but without a profit margin the necessary investment cannot be made.”
While it might be difficult, many have used agricultural finance to invest in modern technology, equipment and techniques to do better.
One intervention farmers are considering is climate smart agriculture.
What is climate smart agriculture?
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is a broad term created by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It’s an umbrella term, used to cover a range of agricultural practices in a world that’s seeing a growing population but with a drastically changing climate.
The UN asserts that CSA has three pillars:
- increasing food production
- building resilient food systems,
- and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.
As the Pulitzer Center notes: “A 2009 report by the FAO estimates that crop yields will need to increase by 70 percent to feed the world of 2050.”
The difficulty is this requires interventions from bigger businesses, working in conjunction with smaller farmers. There is a concern from many parties about exploitation and manipulation. Yet, whether CSA will be the silver bullet to solve our agricultural problems remains to be seen. For now, that it exists and that such larger bodies in the world are speaking about it is, at least, encouraging.