Climate change is exacting a heavy price on worldwide agricultural production and smallholder farmers in developing countries are one of the most vulnerable groups, since the ecosystems they depend upon to grow food are at risk, and many lack the adaptive capacities to cope with more extreme weather events, the International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD has said.
The international agriculture organisation also noted that smallholder farmers were most in need of an ambitious deal on mitigating and adapting to climate change at the 19th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
According to IFAD, such a deal would attempt to stabilise average temperature increases at no more than 2° C above pre-industrial levels and commit additional finance for climate-change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
The climate negotiations, also known as COP19, are taking place November 11-22 in Warsaw, Poland.
New scientific evidence from the from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that by the end of this century, smallholder farmers are likely to be threatened with: An increase in intensity and duration of heat waves and drought in dryland regions, putting more strain on agricultural productivity and water security, and an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall over many land areas.
Others include increases in more severe storms and global tropical cyclone activity, mostly in the North Pacific, but also in the North Atlantic and South Indian Basins; sea level rise between 26 and 82 centimetres, causing salinity intrusion and threatening agricultural lands and fresh water supplies in coastal regions.
To help smallholders adapt to such impacts, IFAD supports a range of projects around the world – from preventing flood damage in Bangladeshi villages to stabilising landslide-prone slopes in Turkey and growing more citrus fruit in Bolivia’s arid highlands. An upcoming IFAD report puts hard numbers on the benefits generated by small-scale adaptation projects. These include cost-savings from avoided disasters, as well as increased incomes, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and gains in biodiversity.
The report’s findings are the subject of an online discussion hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s AlertNet Climate and IFAD on Nov 13.
Meanwhile, IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) has won a 2013 Momentum for ChangeLighthouse Activities Award from UNFCCC. The award to ASAP recognises IFAD’s innovative work in financing climate-change adaptation activities that deliver social and economic benefits to smallholder farmers.