December 06, 2011

Indian NGOs bust the myth of climate smart agriculture

While the negotiations remain deadlocked in Durban over the issues of fate of Kyoto Protocol and Green Climate Fund, NGOs strongly opposed the climate smart agriculture which is being proposed as triple win solution to the problems of climate change, food insecurity and low resilience of farmers due to climate change impacts. In a side event a collective of NGOs from India, argued that the climate smart agriculture is a myth and falsehood being propagated by the agencies who have commercial interest in mitigation in agriculture. Besides, developed countries who do not want to reduce their own emissions are shifting the burden of mitigation on the developing countries and especially farming communities who are already under huge burden of adapting to the climate change impacts as they are the worst affected.

Opening the panel discussion, Ajay Jha from Pairvi, an advocacy support organization based in Delhi said that UNFCCC negotiations are under huge pressure from developed countries like US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan etc. to include soil carbon sequestration in the Clean Development Mechanism. He said that it is being done at the behest of big agribusiness countries who will benefit significantly from it, and developed countries who will have another market based mechanism to fall back and escape their historical responsibility. Farmers fear that if soil carbon sequestration is approved as CDM, that will inevitably lead to land grabbing, and farmers losing the sovereignty on their land and produce. Ms. Anika Shroeder from MISEREOR, Germany talked about the false solutions being proposed in agriculture. She said that soil carbon sequestration is a methodology mired in inadequate scientific knowledge, inappropriate data and lack of countries capacity to measure soil carbon as it varies largely in different agro climatic zones and conditions. Many pilot projects being undertaken by World Bank etc. have even not been able to set the baseline, she reasoned. She also talked about how bio-char and no till agriculture being pushed as solutions to reduce emission in agriculture does not have much scientific basis or proven experience of reducing emission, and ultimately end up promoting increased fertilizer and pesticide use, which will benefit agribusiness companies and further increase the input cost in agriculture. She also added that farming communities in developing countries are being made to believe that they would financially benefit from these mitigation projects in agriculture, however, as a matter of fact these projects are so difficult and technical to commission that it is very unlikely that farmers would be able to do it. Few pilot projects have also revealed that the financial benefit going to farmer, if at all has been extremely insignificant, she added. Mr. Atul Kumar Singh Anjaan, Secretary of CPI said that climate criminals and industrialized countries having huge climate debt are devising new ways of fooling around farmers who are the worst victim of climate change impacts. However, more worrisome is lack of support to farmers in developing countries by their own governments. Globally public investment in agriculture is around 4% of the GDP while agriculture contributes to more than 25% in the GDP in the developing countries, unless that improves it would be difficult to bring resilience in agriculture and fight hunger in the world, he emphasized. More than 70% of farmers in India have a landholding of less than 0.2 ha, if they were to burdened with reducing emission in agriculture, it would severely affect the food security in these countries.

Mr. Anil Dave, Member of Parliament said that world are moving towards a system which is based on over exploitation of natural resources to optimize profit, and developed countries are harbingers and leaders of this political economy. They treat land, water, forests as dead objects created to benefit them, however, until we have respect for them, and try to harmonize our own existence with their existence, we cannot reach the goal of sustainable development, he underlined. Developed countries must provide financial and technological support to suffering millions and farmers in developing countries, in accordance with the climate debt they owe to them. Fast, just and adequate adaptation support is what farmers need in the developing countries, and it is highly unjust to allow polluting countries to continue polluting, and allow big agribusiness companies to fill their coffers in pretext of helping nature and agriculture. Mr. Soumya Dutta, convener of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha said that developed countries talking about reducing emission in agriculture is a stupid idea, as developing countries agriculture is already very smart. Developed countries burn at least three times more energy in producing one unit of food as compared to developing countries, he added. He added that even the national action plan on climate change and state action plan on climate change in different states are also jumping on the bandwagon by proposing soil carbon sequestration, modern scientific agriculture, increased use of biotechnology, no till agriculture etc. The mitigation in agriculture is being aggressively pushed by agribusiness companies and their huge financial interests, developing countries unable to see through the design is highly unfortunate. He also challenged the figures reported on agricultural emissions and that developing countries contribute to 70% of agricultural emissions, as having very little scientific basis.

Reportedly agriculture is one of the important components being negotiated in the Durban climate change conference which has representation from governments of 194 countries. Umbrella group comprising Australia, New Zealand, Canada supported by the US, and many multilateral agencies including World Bank and FAO want SBSTA (Subsidiary Body on scientific and Technological Advice to undertake a work programme on agriculture and agricultural emissions, which developing countries and farming communities believe will pave the way for agriculture being used as carbon sink. A number of farming communities associations and civil society organizations are reported to be strongly against agriculture in climate change negotiations. African countries are keen to take the discussion forward on agriculture. President Mr. Jacob Zuma also sees agriculture as one of the major deliverables in Durban.

3rd December 2011

From COP 17, Durban

Ajay. K. Jha


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