NUS and agrobiodiversity for climate smart agriculture


NUS and agrobiodiversity for climate smart agriculture

Capacity, Awareness & Policy IFAD-EU NUS

To ensure food security under climate change, agricultural practices must adapt and become more resilient, while simultaneously increasing productivity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. How to meet this climate smart agriculture (CSA) challenge was addressed at the 4th International Conference on CSA held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 28-30 November 2017. The main theme of the conference was “Catalyzing local innovation and action to accelerate scaling up of CSA”. Sessions over the three days were dedicated to several sub-themes ranging from agroecology to livestock to policy that included contributions and lively discussions among the 240 delegates from 46 countries.

The key role of biodiversity in support of CSA was highlighted throughout the event. In particular, one session was held on “CSA and Biodiversity Conservation” in which presentations discussed how modern agriculture has reduced the diversity of farm systems and consequently increased their vulnerability. Speakers emphasized the important role of conservation and restoration of biodiversity to support adaptation and enhance harvest security. Approaches to strengthen the role of agrobiodiversity for CSA were given from around the world (inter alia Mali, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Bolivia) and included community seed banks, seed fairs, exchanging seeds across borders, and increasing farmers’ access to gene bank materials for evaluation.

The Conference dedicated a special focus to policy as an essential sector that along with financing, marketing, and technology needs to closely interact with agriculture for effective CSA implementation. Hosted for the first time in Africa, the role of the Malabo Declaration in supporting upscaling of CSA was a recurring topic. This African Union Agreement made in 2014 provides an overarching continental plan for meeting the sustainable development goals of zero hunger, poverty reduction, and climate change adaptation. A presentation by Stefano Padulosi (Bioversity International) brought attention to the key role of native African crops in supporting the Malabo Business Plan. The talk stressed how Africa is endowed with a wealth of cultivated, wild, and semi-wild edible plant species that is strategic for improving peoples’ livelihoods but that research and development have focused on a limited number of staple and commodity crops that have mostly been introduced from outside the continent. Specific recommendations were made for how to leverage and support research and development of neglected and underutilized African native crops through the Malabo Business Plan to help in reaching its targets. The key role of neglected and underutilized species was also highlighted for climate adaptation in other parts of the world.

The official Conference declaration is currently being refined through a participatory process and will soon be available on the conference webpage. Agrobiodiversity will surely be highlighted among the priority areas for CSA implementation.

Further reading

 Presentations by Bioversity International and partners at the event