The Agriculture Advantage

7 November, Bonn

The agriculture advantage: the case for climate action in agriculture, an IFAD and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Programme of the CGIAR (CCAFS) led series of events at the opening of COP23.

This session, A framework for agricultural development under climate change was led by CCAFS' Director Bruce Campbell and the Executive-Director of Sygenta, Simon Winter.

Then followed an interactive panel with speakers from each of the events that will come in the next week: The Gender Advantage, The Land and Water Advantage, The Low Emissions Advantage, The Policy Advantage, the Breeding Advantage and finally The Business Advantage .

Winter set out his and Syngenta’s views on effective multi-stakeholder investment. He talked of the risks faced by smallholders and the many possible ways in which that could be alleviated – including SMS technology, improved crop varieties, weather risk insurance and many others.

He acknowledged that the problem is big and there are no easy solutions, but that he had high hopes for the next two weeks in Bonn and especially the Agriculture Advantage series of events where people could come together and debate and reason out new strategies.

He went on to talk of the need for Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), something IFAD has long championed. He talked of the last decade, which has been great for PPP, but also highlighted the lack of system wide uptake and also the downside of PPP. Namely that some companies were using the terminology to attract donors support, but with no attention to results and impacts nor intention or knowledge for replicability.

“We need to make sure farmers are always front and centre of any initiatives,” said Winter.

Bruce Campbell talked of agricultural transformation under climate change.

"While we want agricultural production to increase for these smallholders, we don’t want back-breaking work done mostly by women to increase,” said Campbell.

"With 815 million people hungry and the planet in need of one gigaton of emissions to be sequestered by 2030, if there is even a hope of keeping global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the time is now to act."

Campbell believes that cellular technology is key, and said that within a decade he fully expects every farmer in Africa to have access to a smartphone and all the information this implies. He thinks that international development should focus on this massive uptake of technology and utilise the reach in order to tailor solutions all the way down to the farm level.

Carl Deering from CARE told us how the Gender Advantage event on the 8th November is important because in terms of smallholder development, absolutely nothing that has and will be talked about will ever succeed without acknowledging the fact that most farm work is done by, and indeed most farmers are, women. And usually women in extremely marginalised areas.

Ilaria Firmian of IFAD talked about the Business Advantage event on 13 November. She said that to achieve transformation in agriculture we need more investments in the sector, and climate finance has the potential to leverage private sector investments, as shown by IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme. Effective action, however, requires strong partnerships among a multitude of stakeholders (investors, farmers, scientists, development practitioners, etc.).

This is shaping up to be a truly exciting series of events where participant deep dive in how we can have smallholder farmers making more money, having better nutrition, not increasing workloads and having better access to markets.