Posts

Farmers Should Act Now to Become Market Leaders in Regenerative Agriculture

New Zealand is better placed than other countries to embrace regenerative agriculture due to its existing pastoral systems, but lack of a clear definition is holding it back, new research has found.

Research commissioned by Beef and Lamb New Zealand and New Zealand Wine Growers looked at how well positioned the country was to take advantage of a growing global tend towards the adoption of regenerative farming practices.

The research was conducted by Alpha Food Labs with funding support from the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and focussed on the future market potential of regeneratively produced food and wine in three key markets – the US, Germany and Britain.

It found positioning regenerative agriculture as part of the solution to climate change had the potential to capture consumer interest. However, linking regenerative production to health and product taste would drive even greater consumer interest.

Beef and Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor said, while still in its infancy, regenerative agriculture was gathering momentum and was set to become a significant trend in food internationally. Farmers needed to act before competitors took the opportunity.

 

KEEP READING ON STUFF

‘Corporate Colonization’: Small Producers Boycott Un Food Summit

Hundreds of civil society groups, academics and social movements are boycotting the first UN global food summit amid growing anger that the agenda has been hijacked by an opaque web of corporate interests.

Called the people’s summit by UN organisers, groups representing thousands of small-scale farmers and Indigenous communities, which produce 70% of the world’s food through sustainable agriculture, are among those to withdraw from Thursday’s event saying their knowledge and experience has been ignored.

The declaration, signed by about 600 groups and individuals, states: “[We] reject the ongoing corporate colonization of food systems and food governance under the facade of the United Nations Food Systems Summit … The struggle for sustainable, just and healthy food systems cannot be unhooked from the realities of the peoples whose rights, knowledge and livelihoods have gone unrecognized and disrespected.”

Some have criticized the prominence of corporations, such as Nestlé, Tyson and Bayer, in the summit’s efforts to identify food system solutions.

KEEP READING ON THE GUARDIAN

‘We Wanted to Work the Land with Our Kids’: The Black Us Farmers Reclaiming the Soil

Malcolm Shabazz Hoover is rattling off his vegetable varieties to two potential customers from a local restaurant.

“It’s called Brassica juncea, a west African mustard green,” Hoover says to Marissa Lorette and Ian Watson, co-owners of BeesWing, a local restaurant looking to work with Black businesses. He picks some from the ground and offers it to them. “Taste it.”

“It’s sweet and spicy,” Watson says, looking pleased and happily confused, and Black Futures Farm bags another client. This brings the number of entities to which it sells produce through the city’s Community Supported Agriculture program to 17 – in less than a year of operation.

I have come to meet Hoover on his micro farms at Portland State University’s Learning Gardens Laboratory. I’ve known this Black naval reserve vet for many years – and the silver-haired 50-year-old has, at times, been one of the most restive and unstable of my Portland associates. When I heard he had turned to farming, I had to see it for myself.

KEEP READING ON THE GUARDIAN

Fair World Project Launches Grow Ahead Crowdfunding Platform to Facilitate Direct Lending and More for Small-scale Farmers

Published: May 3, 2017 

Leading fair trade advocacy organization, Fair World Project (FWP), has announced the launch of Grow Ahead, a crowdfunding platform to facilitate direct lending, farmer-to-farmer trainings, and scholarships to support farmer-led agroecology projects throughout the Global South. Individual consumers can forge an intimate link with frontline farmer organizations, directly fund farmer initiatives, and support the global effort to address climate change on the farm.

“Small-scale farmer organizations in the developing world are historically under-resourced, with limited access to the capital needed to grow their organizations beyond their day-to-day needs. Most development funding for agriculture is focused on industrial and chemical-dependent practices, often through a single company’s supply chain, or as part of an initiative focused on a single technology. Grow Ahead intends to bridge the resource and funding gap, acting as a launch pad for larger, regional agroecological development campaigns that focus on whole farm systems, not solely on individual commodities,” states Fair World Project Executive Director Dana Geffner.

In 2015, Fair World Project (FWP) collaborated with the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers (CLAC) in a contest soliciting small-scale farmer groups to share their experiences and best practices in confronting climate change in their communities. Farmer submissions demonstrated impressive steps to adjust to the growing challenge of climate change, by diversifying farms, promoting on-farm innovation, and improving soil fertility, among other practices. To read more about this project, https://clac-comerciojusto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/climate-change-latin-america.pdf

“These agroecological strategies for combating climate change and feeding hungry communities, such as use of cover-crops and compost to sequester carbon and boost soil fertility and organic matter, must be a global priority, scaling up and out in coming years. Small-scale farmer organizations have the potential to quickly and effectively implement cost-effective climate-resilient tactics, while simultaneously generating a multiplier effect, expanding their experience and organizational impact,” states Grow Ahead Director Ryan Zinn.

Despite the serious threat that climate change poses to humanity in general, and to small-scale farmers in particular, proven solutions like small-scale regenerative agriculture that have a long track record of success. However, these regenerative methods proven to mitigate climate change receive little government or market support and safeguards.

KEEP READING ON PR NEWSWIRE

Want Good Soil? Feed the Microbes

Author: Kathy Voth  | Published on: March 20, 2017

In June of 2014, Grist reporter Nathanael Johnson reported on a battle between two men in New South Wales Australia. Clive Kirkby and John Kirkegaard were having it out over the proper handling of crop residues after harvest. Kirkby was trying to get farmers to stop torching wheat stubble. Rather than letting fire release all that carbon into the atmosphere, he told them that they could increase soil organic matter and build healthier, carbon-rich soils by leaving the stubble in the field.  John Kirkegaard, an agronomist, told Kirkby he was wrong. The practice of burning and cultivating was what was growing the best crops.

As most folks will tell you nowadays, cultivating, or plowing, disrupts soil microbes and releases even more carbon into the air. That’s why no-till is becoming increasingly popular. But the practice that Kirkby was promoting didn’t seem to be making a difference either. After six years of leaving stubble in the field, Kirkegaard’s data showed that soil organic matter and the carbon it holds wasn’t increasing, and in some cases, it was even decreasing.

Farmers have been encouraged to leave stubble in the field for the same reason that management-intensive grazing proponents leave plenty of forage behind in pasture: It’s food for the soil. Put more precisely, it’s fuel for a complex, not entirely understood food web of fungi, insects, and microbes eating the residue and each other and transforming plant remains into stable, carbon-rich soil.

KEEP READING ON ON PASTURE

Can Radical Transparency Fix Global Supply Chains and Slow Climate Change?

Author: Steve Zwick | Published: December 3, 2016

Kevin Rabinovitch stands straight and speaks in clear, clipped tones – more like a naval officer than a corporate quant – as, on the screen behind him, a daunting mass of threads and whorls illustrates the global flows of Brazilian soybeans from thousands of individual municipalities across Brazil, through specific exporters and importers, to countries around the world.

“We buy a lot of soy from Brazil,” he says. “But we also buy things that eat soy in Brazil before we buy them,” he continues, referring to the chickens and cows that end up in pet food manufactured by food giant Mars Inc, where he’s Global Director of Sustainability.

Known for its ubiquitous Mars and Milky Way candy bars, privately-held Mars, Inc also makes Whiskas cat food, Wrigley’s chewing gum, and dozens of other products that require tens of thousands of tons of cattle, soy, and palm oil – all of which are packaged in products derived from pulp & paper.

These are the “big four” commodities responsible for most of the world’s deforestation, and they achieved that status because thousands of companies buy them from hundreds of thousands of farmers around the world, and many of those farmers chop forests to make way for plantations.

KEEP READING ON HUFFINGTON POST

Africa: Climate Finance for Farmers Key to Avert One Billion Hungry

Author: Fabíola Ortiz | Published on: November 21, 2016 

Marrakech — With climate change posing growing threats to smallholder farmers, experts working around the issues of agriculture and food security say it is more critical than ever to implement locally appropriate solutions to help them adapt to changing rainfall patterns.

Most countries consider agriculture a priority when it comes to their plans to limit the rise of global temperatures to less than 2 degrees C. In line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement, 95 percent of all countries included agriculture in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

“We need to find solutions that allow people to live better, increase their income, promote decent jobs and be resilient.” — Martial Bernoux of FAO

“The climate is changing. We don’t have rains that we used to have in the past. In the last decade, we had two consecutive years of intense drought and we lost all the production. The animals all died because they had no water,” Ahmed Khiat, 68, a small farmer in the Moroccan community of Souaka, told IPS.

READ MORE ON ALL AFRICA

Coffee and Climate Change: In Brazil, a Disaster Is Brewing

Author: Lulu Garcia-Navarro | Published: October 12, 2016

Coffee lovers, alert! A new report says that the world’s coffee supply may be in danger owing to climate change. In the world’s biggest coffee-producing nation, Brazil, the effects of warming temperatures are already being felt in some communities.

You can see the effects in places like Naygney Assu’s farm, tucked on a quiet hillside in Espirito Santo state in eastern Brazil. Walking over his coffee field is a noisy experience, because it’s desiccated. The leaves from the plants are curled up all over the floor, in rust-colored piles. The plants themselves are completely denuded.

“We’ve had no rain since last December,” Assu tells me in Portuguese, “and my well dried up. There was nothing we can do, except wait for rain.”

But the rain doesn’t come.

In fact, it’s been three years of drought here in Sao Gabriel da Palha. This region is part of Brazil’s coffee belt. Farmers here have been growing robusta — a coffee bean used in espressos and instant coffee — since the 1950s. Assu says he doesn’t know what to do.

KEEP READING ON NPR

 

Feeding the World

Authors: Anne Weir Schechinger & Craig Cox | Published on: October 5, 2016

The United Nations has forecast that world food production must double to feed 9 billion people by 2050. That assertion has become a relentless talking point in the growing debate over the environmental, health and social consequences of American agriculture.

America’s farmers, we are told, must double their production of meat products and grains to “feed the world.” Otherwise, people will go hungry.

Agribusinesses such as Monsanto sometimes cite the so-called “moral imperative” to feed a hungry world in order to defend the status-quo farm policy and deflect attention from the destruction that “modern” agriculture is inflicting on the environment and human health.

The real experts know better. Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization argues instead that the current conditions of “modern” agriculture are “no longer acceptable.”

The key to ending world hunger while protecting the environment is to help small farmers in the developing world increase their productivity and income, and to promote “agro-ecology” everywhere, including in the U.S.

KEEP READING ON EWG

Can Agroecology Feed the World and Save the Planet?

Author:Henrietta Moore | Published on: October 9, 2016

You wouldn’t necessarily know it, but right now Africa is facing a food crisis. With Brexit, global terror attacks, the war in Syria and the seemingly endless string of sporting fixtures vying for our collective attention in 2016 so far, the fact that up to 50 million people across east and Southern Africaare at risk of hunger seems to have largely escaped mention.

The continent has been wracked by drought following one of the strongest ever El Niños. And while a natural phenomenon is the immediate cause, however, Africa’s food security has been undermined over recent decades by the rise of monocropping – the planting of single-crop tracts across vast swathes of scarce arable land.

Starting in the 1960s, the “green revolution” saw industrial farming practices transplanted to poorer nations. In the second half of the 20th century, its success seemed unassailable: the global harvest of maize, wheat and rice trebled from 640 million tonnes in 1961 to almost 1.8 billion tonnes by 2000.

Africa, in particular, embraced new maize varieties with alacrity. Corn now covers up to 70% of some African nations’ farmland and accounts for about 50% of calories consumed by humans.

But the enormous cost to the land and people is now becoming clear. A recent report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) summed up the problem bluntly, stating: Past agricultural performance is not indicative of future returns”.

The meticulously-researched document concludes that the green revolution’s “quantum leap” in cereal production has come at the price of soil degradation, salinisation of irrigated areas, over-extraction of groundwater and the build-up of pest resistance. Add climate change into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. While Africa’s population is set to double to 2.4 billion by 2050, the FAO warns that maize yields could fall by nearly 20% over that period.

The problem is affecting not just quantity, but quality. Lack of rotation and over-use of phosphates and nitrates has degraded the nutrient content of the soil, leaving 2 billion people globally suffering micronutrient malnutrition, many in sub-Saharan Africa.

KEEP READING ON ECO WATCH