As COP22 begins in Marrakech, Morocco today, it is interesting to think about the role of agriculture in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and in the adaptation of our food-production system. Development and Peace – Caritas Canada will be at the climate negotiations to follow the ways in which the Paris Agreement will be implemented and intends to make sure that its perspective on small family farming is heard loud and clear.
Putting agriculture at the heart of the solutions to counter the effects of climate change may seem at first glance irrelevant, but when we examine the issue more closely, we quickly realize its pertinence. Agriculture is responsible for more than one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions around the globe, yet this sector feels the impact of climate change head-on and is a victim of the hazardous climatic conditions.
Agriculture’s impact on global warming differs depending on the agricultural model that is applied. Indeed, industrial agriculture and family farming are not on an equal footing when it comes to GHGs. If we add transport, processing, packaging, freezing, retail sales and food waste, it is estimated that the global industrial agricultural system represents from 44% to 57% of total GHG emissions.
Development and Peace has published the report “Small Family Farmers: At the Heart of Climate Justice ” to shed light on this very issue. This report shows that we need to quickly initiate a transition to new agricultural models if we want to effectively fight against climate change.
The report includes cases studies from Burundi, Canada, Indonesia and Paraguay that present initiatives in agroecology, urban agriculture and integrated family farming that are being put forward by small family farmers.
Small family farmers in the Global South account for about 85% of farmers and produce about 60% of food consumed in the world, while only occupying 20% to 30% of arable land. Yet they are the first to suffer from hunger and the first to bear the impact of climate change. To fight effectively against climate change, Canada needs to financially support small family farms in three ways:
- Defending safe access to land for small family farmers;
- Financially supporting agricultural practices that are good for the environment, such as agroecology; and
- Ensuring that small family farmers have a voice in the political decisions that affect them.
The transition to a new agri-food system will take place one step at a time and will require Canada’s financial support.