16 November 2013

Agriculture and environment: UNCTAD’s wake up call

Published a few months before the start of the International Year for Family Farming (2014), UNCTAD’s Trade and Environment Review 2013 urges world leaders to wake up and ‘‘make agriculture truly sustainable for food security in a changing climate’’ by operating a ‘‘shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale [family] farmers’’. In short, the world must move from a traditional ‘‘green revolution’’ approach to one of family farm-based ‘‘ecological intensification’’.

Recognising that hunger is more a problem of lack of purchasing power and access to food than of production and productivity, the report argues that meeting the food security challenge is ‘‘primarily about empowerment of the poor and their food sovereignty’’.

This implies a radical transformation of our view of food and agriculture that will lead, according to the report to:

    1. Increased soil carbon and integration between crop and livestock production, and between crops and trees (agroforestry) and natural vegetation

    2. Reduced GHG emissions by a modified livestock production

    3. Reduced GHG emission through sustainable management of peatland, forest and grassland

    4. Optimisation of use of organic and inorganic fertiliser by adopting closed nutrient cycles

    5. Reduction of waste in the food chains

    6. Changing dietary patterns to make them more climate-friendly

    7. Reforming the international trade regime for food and agricultural products.

Based on contributions of more than 50 recognised international experts, this report is by far the most innovative report produced by an international organisation on food and agriculture in recent years.

Congratulations to UNCTAD!

A must read report for whoever is interested in food and agriculture !

Let’s hope that decision makers will be inspired by the directions of change proposed by this report!


Last update:    November 2013

For your comments and reactions: