FAO in North America

Rural women’s voices: Rose Cunningham Kain

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on March 26, 2012

Rose Cunningham Kain is Executive Director of Wangki Tangni, a women’s community development organization run by and for indigenous peoples on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast.

A panelist at FAO’s side event, “Unleashing rural women’s voice to end hunger and poverty” during the Committee on the Status of Women in New York earlier this month, Rose provided her perspective on the needs of rural women:

Climate-smart agriculture and green growth – can ICT help?

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on March 5, 2012

©FAO/Hoang Dinh NamThe World Bank, FAO and the e-Agriculture community invite you to explore how information and communication technologies (ICT) can support “green growth” and climate-smart agriculture.

This is the second in a series of discussions following the publication of the World Bank’s “ICT in Agriculture” Sourcebook, responding to the growing demand for knowledge on how to use ICTs to improve agricultural productivity and raise smallholder incomes.

The current forum, which runs from 5-16 March, will look at how ICTs are being used to make farming practices more environmentally sustainable.

Do you have experiences to share on how ICTs are helping improve soil management and land use planning? Or examples of how mobile phones are being used to get climate-smart agriculture information or data to farmers?

Join the discussion.

Agriculture in the international sphere

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on January 26, 2012

The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has just published the 2011-2012 issue of its annual magazine, SAISPHERE. In this year’s issue, members of the SAIS faculty, scholars, alumni and students explore the theme, “Growth Ahead for Global Agriculture”, to coincide with the school’s “Year of Agriculture”.

The school’s focus on agriculture is an attempt “to restore agriculture to its rightful place in international studies”, according to SAIS Dean Jessica P. Einhorn, who writes:

“Agriculture is key to understanding the foreign policy of nations.”

SAIS visiting scholar Robert Thompson provides an overview of the challenges facing agriculture, examining how resource constraints, climate change and changing demographics threaten food security and pointing to the need for greater investment in rural infrastructure, education, health, and agricultural research and technology transfer to solve the problem of rural poverty through development of both agriculture and the nonfarm sector.

Other features explore such topics as historical and political trends in Indian agriculture, China’s agricultural revolution, trends in agricultural investment, high food prices and economic growth, global fisheries, agriculture’s role in Argentina and Brazil’s economic recovery, and the right to food and foreign land deals in Africa.

Read more or download the complete issue.

A climate quickie

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on January 18, 2012

Do the snowstorms that pummelled the east coast and the midwest of the United States last year stand as evidence against global warming? Well, not necessarily, but this seemed to be a topic of much debate. A recent video produced by the Norwegian TV program Siffer helps distinguish between characteristics of “weather” vs. “climate”. Posted on the blog for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research programme of the CGIAR, the video is used as an educational tool to explain the distinction between climate changes and weather variations.

Growing energy and food

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on December 28, 2011

Biofuel crops are not the only sources of renewable energy that farmers can cultivate. A National Geographic Magazine article discusses the emerging practice of constructing wind turbines on Mid-western farmland and the implications for crop productivity. According to research cited in the article, wind turbines could help mitigate extreme temperatures on the farm, keeping crops from overheating or freezing. But this area of study is still in its infancy, and scientists say that more data is needed to present a complete picture of the trade-offs for farmers. If wind farms turn out to be a beneficial fixture on farms, the U.S. Corn Belt could soon be producing a new crop for the market – wind energy.

Climate change could worsen extinction crisis

Submitted by Steve Hirsch on December 6, 2011

Photo: ©FAO/Steve TerrillClimate change is likely to accelerate biodiversity loss, threatening more animal species with extinction as their habitats change, according to a new FAO report released earlier this week.

Wildlife in a changing climate examines likely ecosystem and landscape changes in forests, mountains, wetlands, coastal areas, savannahs, grasslands and steppes and their impact on physical conditions, weather patterns and ecosystem functioning.

“Terrestrial, freshwater and marine wildlife will be severely affected unless we manage to cope with climate changes through decisive planning and action,” the report says.

Climate change will affect such physical conditions as snow cover and sea level and result in increases in the irregularity and severity of such extreme weather events as droughts and floods, the report says.

Wildlife consequences, according to the report, include the emergence and increased spread of pathogens, affecting wildlife, humans and livestock; more conflicts between humans and wildlife over the same dwindling resources; and ecosystem changes.

The report also considers a number of responses to climate change, including protecting current ecosystems, adaptive management – such as moving species away from changed ecological conditions or modifying habitats, and restoring degraded ecosystems, particularly those like mangroves, forests, savannahs and grasslands that are important for climate change resilience.

Read the full report.


Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on November 28, 2011

A Wall Street Journal blog post today highlighted an open letter from FAO and its partners calling on negotiators at the COP17 climate talks in Durban, South Africa, to recognise the important role of agriculture in addressing climate change and approve a Work Program for the agriculture sector under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.

The coalition of agricultural organizations are also organizing an Agriculture and Rural Development Day on 3 December  to share best practices on climate-smart agriculture and show how agriculture is part of the climate solution.

Tomorrow, 29 November, FAO will be hosting “climate-smart knowledge day” in Durban. Check in at FAO’s Climate Change blog for regular updates from Durban.

Degradation and scarcity of land and water put food security at risk

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on November 28, 2011

A new FAO report warns that widespread degradation and deepening scarcity of land and water resources have placed a number of key food production systems around the globe at risk, posing a profound challenge to the task of feeding a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050.

Download the full report here, watch a webcast of today’s report launch or listen to an interview on the report’s finding with FAO expert Hubert George.

Learn more about FAO’s vision for the sustainable intensification of agricultural production in Save and Grow: A New Paradigm for Agriculture released earlier this year.

State of Land and Water Resources report

A meal to be thankful for

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of those holidays that is largely about the food. However, this year, amidst droughts and downpours, heat waves and cold snaps, our Thanksgiving feasts are in danger. A Huffington Post article, Thanksgiving Foods Battle Extreme Weather in 2011, documents how some holiday staples were affected by the climatic variations this fall and summer. Hurricane Irene is being held accountable for a “pumpkin shortage” and July heat waves resulted in the demise of many young Midwestern turkeys. While according to the article, “some scientists warn these weather extremes will become the ‘new normal’”, for today let us be grateful that these Thanksgiving favorites are still making it onto the dinner table.Resource Media

Report charts pathway to tackling hunger and climate change

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on November 21, 2011

A new report issued in the run up to the next round of UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, later this month, lays out key policy responses to the global challenge of feeding a world faced with climate change, rapid population growth, poverty, food price spikes and degraded ecosystems.

“Business as usual in our globally interconnected food system will not bring us food security and environmental sustainability,” says the report, Achieving food security in the face of climate change – a summary for policy makers from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, an international group of experts convened by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

The report’s recommendations include significant increases in global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems over the next decade; sustainably intensifying agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture; and reducing losses and waste in the food system.

No small challenge, according to Sir John Beddington, the UK’s chief scientific adviser and chair of the Commission:

“It’s about reorienting the whole global food system – not just agricultural production, and not just in developing countries. We need a socially equitable, global approach to produce the funding, policy, management and regional initiatives that will deliver nutrition, income and climate benefits for all.”

The Commission’s final report, upon which the recommendations are based, will be released early in 2012.

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