“The food is the basis of our lives”.
This is how “A Farmers Driven Climate Agenda” conference started yesterday at the COP24. The Farmers Driven Agenda was born from a concern about how agriculture was going to be covered in the Paris Agreement, and so one evening at the Climate Conference in Marrakesh, farmers decided to come up with their own agenda. The idea behind was to create something that had never been done before and on a global scale, including every interest of the farmers from every culture. It wasn’t going to happen on its own, so they needed to make it happen! And this is how the “Climakers” idea came up. It wasn’t going to be an organization or a program, but a comprehensive and global movement, which would include every farmer with their fingers in the soil, independently of sex, age, nationality.
The central question that the Agenda focuses on is “what can farmers do to adapt and mitigate climate change, and how do they need to do it?”.
In a few words, farmers wanted to come up with a plan that would include their interests, aspirations and threats since they are one of the most vulnerable groups to the changes in the climate.
At this point, the president of the Pan African Farmers Organization, stressed how much the African regions, the ones who contribute the least to climate change, are also the ones who are mostly affected by it, with floods and droughts, which provoke the reduction of water availability and the loss of diversification in agriculture. This is the reason why the Farmers Driven Agenda is needed to preserve natural resources for food production: the only way to mitigate climate change is to replenish and re-green the world.
The agenda has the purpose to speak up for the unheard voices of the African farmers, taking into consideration what happens on every level of the production. This is what the Representative for the Farmers of South Africa said about this ’very exciting initiative’, who is engaging the farmers who are the central part of the process to practice Climate Smart Agriculture. He highlighted the fact that all of this needs to be a collective effort, where the implementation on the national level comprehends also, and especially, young farmers: without them “they would be shooting themselves in the feet”. What needs to be done, is to transform the agricultural system together and embrace the idea “not green for the sake of green, but to have a real impact”.
In collaboration with the World Bank, they also drafted the Climate-Smart Agriculture Guide, a tool to transform the food system through a collaboration between the farmers themselves and the scientific community, who would provide the right tools and share information about the most efficient way to implement the project.
After the speakers finished their interventions, the voice was given to the audience. In my opinion, the most interesting and urgent question regarded the fair distribution of what we already have, since experts claim that the world, as of today, is able to feed more than 12 billion people.In fact, 60% of the global arable land is used to produce crop for animal farming and animal-based products production, who account only for 2% of the global protein consumption. Put it differently, for every kilogram of beef we need an input of 15 kilograms of crop. At this point, shouldn’t the whole agricultural industry focus more on producing plant-based proteins for human consumption – especially in the Western and wealthiest countries that are based on a high meat consumption culture? The answer of the President of the World Farming Organization is very simple: if the market changes, also the food production will change, because farmers produce what brings them a higher income, namely, what is demanded by the consumer. The old and well-known law of economics, explains that it is the demand to decide the offer.
Now, the real issue is: policymakers and producers can do their part, but if we don’t change radically our habits when it comes to food, preferring sustainable and environmentally friendly nutrition, the change will not be impactful enough to mitigate our environmental problems.