Food-Climate Nexus: Need for an International Small Holder Farmers Agribusiness Consortium
Climate change against the backdrop of rising population, increasing inequality, and natural resource depletion threatens global food and nutritional security. To make the situation worse, 1.3 billion tons of food (one-third of total production or food sufficient to feed around 33% of the global population) is wasted every year (FAO, 2011). Further, the ongoing pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of fragile supply chains. Therefore, feeding an estimated global population of 10 billion by 2050 and achieving food and nutritional security along the continuum of availability, accessibility, and acceptability requires a shared commitment and coordinated action among policymakers. This policy brief points to the agriculture- climate nexus with the underlying water-soil-energy linkages, implying that farming is a cause and consequence of climate change. This brief further highlights the vulnerability of the smallholder farmers that constitute around 85% of the production units worldwide and are particularly vulnerable to climate change. They have the biggest stake in climate-centered food security.
The global institutional architecture that exists for promoting agriculture development, such as the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (FAO), to name a few, have done a commendable job in developing high yielding crop varieties and livestock breeds and promoting good agriculture practices that set global benchmarks for yields, quality, nutrition, and related parameters. These institutional efforts have helped the developing and developed countries accelerate their agriculture growth rates and, more importantly, expand the aggregate food production to feed the growing population. Yet, the smallholder farmers with micro land holdings of two hectares or less and the family-owned farms that are now at the receiving end of the climate change risks have not benefited much from the work of the global institutions. Now that they are exposed to more serious consequences of climate change patterns, a sharper institutional focus on the smallholder farmers is imperative to the future of food and nutritional security.
Raising the capacity and resilience of the smallholder farmers through linkage to the global value chain would determine the climate-resilient character of global agriculture, including cropping systems, livestock farming, fishery, agro-forestry, and allied activities that harvest food from nature. With this end in view, it is recommended that the G7 announce the formation of an “International Small Holder Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium” at its Elmau Summit. The Consortium may be funded out of the resources likely to be allocated by the G7 for the wider program of managing climate change (both mitigation and adaptation). More importantly, the proposed organization must be designed strategically to operate on the principle of Trusteeship. The spirit of Trusteeship should engender a sense of trust among the global community of smallholder farmers that there is that support and commitment from the research and development; agriculture education and extension; access to credit, and above all, the agribusiness trade for both inputs and farm output across the world, to appreciate the role and relevance of smallholders to the emerging paradigm of food security and enable them to collectivize and co-create institutions at the national and sub-national levels to protect and advance their interests.