HA NOI — More than 500 delegates from 150 countries and 20 international organisations gathered in Ha Noi yesterday, calling for more efforts on development of climate-smart agriculture that will better ensure food security.
|Farmers in Can Tho City's O Mon District, in the Mekong Delta, harvet rice. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
Speaking at the opening plenary session of the 2nd Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (AFC), Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat stressed the increased negative impacts of climate change on agriculture production, especially in regions with adverse natural conditions.
"We are facing unprecedented challenges in the context of over-exploitation of natural resources, increased negative impacts of drought, flooding, salinity, a rising sea level and other environmental consequences that are directly caused by humans," Phat said.
"This requires countries to come up with smart and comprehensive policies in developing agriculture and integrating them in their national strategic plan."
Hans Hoogeveen, the Netherlands' Vice Minister for Agriculture, said the concept of climate-smart agriculture was still fairly new when the Netherlands - host of the first AFC at the Hague in 2010 - brought together the agendas of agriculture, food security and climate change.
"Now, the world has learned that the task of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 could only be achieved through a green revolution, and that climate-smart agriculture is "at the heart of green growth," he said.
According to experts, climate-smart agriculture includes proven practical techniques such as mulching, inter-cropping, no-till farming, improved grazing and better water management.
It is sustainable as it increases productivity, resilience, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and enhances food security.
Without strong adaptation and mitigation measures, climate change will reduce food crop yields by 16 per cent world-wide and by 28 percent in Africa during the next fifty years, experts estimate.
Climate change in South and South-east Asia is expected to reduce agricultural productivity by as much as 50 per cent during the next three decades.
Alenxander Muller, assistant director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN in Rome, said attention must be given to small-scale farmers, who are more vulnerable to changing weather patterns and poverty.
World Bank Country Director in Viet Nam Victoria Kwakwa said studies have shown that effective investment in agriculture could be three times more beneficial to the poor than growth in other sectors.
"We need agriculture to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem," she said. "We have no other choice to feed 9 billion by 2050 without destroying our planet."
And that could mean the use of innovative technology, early warning systems and changes in dietary patterns, in addition to long-term programmes and investment, she added.
Nguyen Van Bo, head of the iet Nam Academy of Agriculture Science and a member of the International Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, said Viet Nam has made efforts to make its agriculture more adaptable to climate change by improving crop varieties and efficiency of water use, changing cropping patterns and using adaptive technologies such as mulching and no-tillage farming.
"We can no longer look at food security, poverty and climate change and environmental sustainability separately," he said.
The commission estimates that 43 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, especially in growing paddy rice, raising livestock, crop residues and activities such as recycling and burning.
The week-long Ha Noi conference will also look at the implementation of the road map for action that was developed at the first AFC in the Netherlands to mobilise action on achieving climate-smart agriculture.
Conference participants are also expected to call on developed countries and their partners to scale up early-action programmes on climate-smart agriculture and emphasise the importance of government-led partnerships with non-state agencies to ensure more sustainable farming.
A high-level ministerial meeting will be held on Thursday, with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung scheduled to attend. — VNS