Category Archives: Food Security

In Photos: DDLD at COP18

Over a quarter of world’s population lives in areas that are facing increasing level of drought, desertification and land degradation. Previously we have shared with you blogs that described how these issues were discussed at the 18th session  of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP18). This time we bring you a bouquet of photos that highlight some best moments of those discussions:

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Degraded forests: could inconsistent data affect adaptation?

Stella PaulLocal variables, inadequate technology, low capacity and lack of consensus on a single definition of degradation are resulting into inconsistent data on forest degradation, say leading land and forest experts. The experts, who were at the 6th Forest day observed at the ongoing 18th session of the Conference of the Parties  of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP18),  shared this information during the release of a global assessment report on REDD+

The report launched is titled ‘Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives”
Answering to a question on the reason of the data inconsistency in particular, the experts commented that definition of degraded forest continued to be a hotly debated issue, thus making it difficult for scientists and researchers to access consistent data for assessing the volume, seriousness and the loss resulted out of degraded forests.

This, to me however, sounds quite alarming, considering the fact that 40% of world’s total forests are in dryland where 2.5 billion live. It means, whether it is mitigation or adaptation, we are actually talking about policies, strategies and actions that will effect and impact over a quarter of world’s total population. And considering policies must be based on the accurate inputs from the scientific communities, lack of consistent data can very well mean lack of action at the political level.
However, at the moment, there seem to be no quick fix solution to overcome this problem. The biggest reason is that countries do not agree on a single definition on degraded forest. Also, some countries still lack the technology needed to map the degraded forests, which again make it difficult for the scientists to access data that are bankable and unquestionable.

I asked Valarie Kapos of United Nations Development Program and John A Parrotta of International Union of Forest Research Organizations who were two of the panelists, how these problems could be solved. Kapos had no straight answer, except that there was a need to provide the poor countries adequate technology and build their capacity to produce data. The other need was to raise enough awareness among the policy makers to agree to a common definition of degraded forests.

Is this really going to happen? We will just have to wait and see.

Stella Paul is blogging from COP18

Climate smart agriculture: is assumption feeding farmers’ fears?

Stella Paul blogs from COP18 in Doha
Chief Adam Tampuri is a cashew farmer from Ghana in West Africa. Last year, Tampuri has lost fifty cashew trees, but he does not know what killed them.

”They just dried up one by one. Nowadays, we are getting strange plant diseases we never saw before,” said Tampuri at a side event at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change today.

Cashews growing on the vine.

Cashews growing on the vine.

The loss of the trees has directly impacted Tampuri’s living condition: as a cash crop, the cashews are an important and dependable source of his monthly income. Fewer trees, therefore, mean that the money that will come from the sale of cashews will not be enough to buy food. Despite the loss, Chief Tampuri is hesitant to try climate smart farming techniques, especially soil carbon sequestration. “Climate smart agriculture (CSA) will benefit only large corporate houses and not us small farmers,” he commented.

The view of Tampuri was echoed severally at a side event organized by the Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON), an Indian non-governmental organization that promotes the rights of small and marginal farmers. In fact, when Ritu Tiwari of CECOEDCON said that climate smart agriculture could only benefit the interests of large seed firms and producers of genetically-modified organisms, the other panelists nodded in support.

The confidence of the speakers seemed to have emerged out of their experience on the ground. But have any of them assessed any real or potential loss resulting from CSA? If yes, did they have any number or figure to share with the audience?

My finding was disappointing. No panelists had information showing how a farmer could suffer loss from CSA. Panelist Anika Schroeder of Misereor, a Germany-based farmers’ organization, said there were instances when farmers lost money in Brazil, without citing specific examples. Also, there was no study that she could mention which had assessed either real or a potential loss or damage caused by CSA.

That set me thinking. Are farmers falling prey to blind assumptions? Is lack of knowledge feeding their fear of CSA? Or is there fire in this smoke?

I appreciate the concerns of farmers. But if such information gaps remain, there is reason to believe that this could very well be a reality. If that is the case, then there is an urgent need to address and allay this fear.

Stella Paul

Stella Paul is a journalist from India.

This could be done by roping in more CSOs, especially those representing small and marginal farmers in developing countries, to share and exchange information on CSA, its benefits and its potential damage. It would also be wise to build skills in farmers to monitor CSA, assess the loss and benefits and mitigate the damage. For nothing is more damaging than lack of knowledge. And, when it concerns agriculture and food production, adequate information would benefit not only the producers, but the consumers too.

**Ms. Stella Paul is an independent correspondent for global media houses, including Reuters AlertNet and Inter Press Service. Gender, livelihoods, drought and land degradation/desertification are among her major areas of interest.