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Director of the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

How would you summarize the most important findings emerging from the impressive research and outreach of CCAFS these last ten years?

Our focus is on smallholder systems, and so on the mitigation side of climate change I think we have got a good handle of the priorities for climate change mitigation. Emissions in smallholder systems were largely unknown a decade ago. On the adaptation side, we have come to see the power of getting climate-informed advisories to farmers, so they can better plan their farming operations, leading to big increases in technology uptake.

What are the five most important priorities when it comes to agriculture and climate change adaptation?

For small-holder systems:

  1. Climate-informed advisories and early warning (preferably digital) – to match weather with what is done on farm, to try and manage more extreme events, and to make the best of good weather conditions

  2. Stress-tolerant varieties (to multiple stresses!) and practices (e.g. massive expansion in irrigation).

  3. Getting finance to smallholders, so they can invest (but this must go hand in hand with risk reducing mechanisms).

  4. At a larger scale, bringing together public and private finance (including for example climate finance).

  5. Getting markets to work for smallholders – as this will drive farmer behaviour and change incentives.


What are the five most important priorities when it comes to agriculture and climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration?

For smallholders :

  1. Livestock systems, getting less GHGs per unit output.

  2. In paddy rice through alternate wetting and drying to cut down on methane emissions.

  3. Better timing and targeting of fertilizers to reduce emissions.

But the target of achieving an only 2 degrees warmer world is a massive challenge, thus we need some global shifts:

  1. diet shifts towards more climate friendly diets.

  2. Reductions in food loss and waste will be critical globally

How do fertilizers fit into meeting these priorities?

There are many intersections to fertilizers: 

  • Climate-resilient practices (e.g. stress tolerant varieties) include closing the yield gap, with fertilizer important, but its correct timing and targeting is equally important – this cannot be BAU agriculture development.

  • Changes in diets and cutting down on food loss and waste will have massive implications for production – and thus a fertilizer connection.

  • Getting finance to smallholders and changing their incentives is likely the route to drive change in practices, with implications for fertilizers.







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