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Settle W.,UN Food and Agriculture Organization | Garba M.H.,UN Food and Agriculture Organization
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability | Year: 2011

This paper reports on howthe farmer field school (FFS) approach has been used to successfully catalyse important changes among stakeholders in the savannah zones ofWestAfrica. Improved agronomic practices, better decision-making skills and diversification of smallholder farms in developing countries are shown to provide farmers the opportunity to rebuild soil fertility, optimize input use and introduce new sources of food and nutrition and marketable products for local populations. This is a knowledge-intensive endeavour best addressed through community-based processes of education. By the end of 2010, approximately 116,000 rice, vegetable, cotton and other farmers would have been involved in season-long FFS in four West African countries, resulting in improved yields and incomes and ushering substantial progress in both reducing the use of chemical pesticides and improving the use of fertilizers and organic amendments. The programme is increasingly being successfully integrated into local, provincial and national structures. Experienced personnel are being employed to initiate similar programmes in nearby countries. The evolving network of experienced actors and committed countries provides a platform for collaboration by a growing set of partners and represents a large-scale, long-termprogrammatic approach to helpingsustainably intensify anddevelopagriculture inAfrica. © 2011 Earthscan.

Keenan R.J.,University of Melbourne | Reams G.A.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Achard F.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | de Freitas J.V.,Brazilian Forest Service | And 2 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2015

The area of land covered by forest and trees is an important indicator of environmental condition. This study presents and analyses results from the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 (FRA 2015) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FRA 2015 was based on responses to surveys by individual countries using a common reporting framework, agreed definitions and reporting standards. Results indicated that total forest area declined by 3%, from 4128Mha in 1990 to 3999Mha in 2015. The annual rate of net forest loss halved from 7.3Mhay-1 in the 1990s to 3.3Mhay-1 between 2010 and 2015. Natural forest area declined from 3961Mha to 3721Mha between 1990 and 2015, while planted forest (including rubber plantations) increased from 168Mha to 278Mha. From 2010 to 2015, tropical forest area declined at a rate of 5.5Mhay-1 - only 58% of the rate in the 1990s - while temperate forest area expanded at a rate of 2.2Mhay-1. Boreal and sub-tropical forest areas showed little net change. Forest area expanded in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, East Asia, and Western-Central Asia, but declined in Central America, South America, South and Southeast Asia and all three regions in Africa. Analysis indicates that, between 1990 and 2015, 13 tropical countries may have either passed through their forest transitions from net forest loss to net forest expansion, or continued along the path of forest expansion that follows these transitions. Comparing FRA 2015 statistics with the findings of global and pan-tropical remote-sensing forest area surveys was challenging, due to differences in assessment periods, the definitions of forest and remote sensing methods. More investment in national and global forest monitoring is needed to provide better support for international initiatives to increase sustainable forest management and reduce forest loss, particularly in tropical countries. © 2015.

Jepson P.C.,Oregon State University | Guzy M.,Oregon State University | Blaustein K.,Oregon State University | Sow M.,Enda Pronat | And 3 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

We outline an approach to pesticide risk assessment that is based upon surveys of pesticide use throughout West Africa. We have developed and used new risk assessment models to provide, to our knowledge, the first detailed, geographically extensive, scientifically based analysis of pesticide risks for this region. Human health risks from dermal exposure to adults and children are severe enough in many crops to require long periods of up to three weeks when entry to fields should be restricted. This is impractical in terms of crop management, and regulatory action is needed to remove these pesticides from the marketplace. We also found widespread risks to terrestrial and aquatic wildlife throughout the region, and if these results were extrapolated to all similar irrigated perimeters in the Senegal and Niger River Basins, they suggest that pesticides could pose a significant threat to regional biodiversity. Our analyses are presented at the regional, national and village levels to promote regulatory advances but also local risk communication and management. Without progress in pesticide risk management, supported by participatory farmer education, West African agriculture provides a weak context for the sustainable intensification of agricultural production or for the adoption of new crop technologies. © 2014 The Authors.

News Article | December 11, 2015
Site: news.yahoo.com

Demand for animal products in emerging economies such as Indonesia -- a country of 250 million with a rapidly growing middle class -- is also tipped to explode. (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo ) More Jakarta (AFP) - Climate change is the last thing on Maya Puspita Sari's mind as she tucks into a steak and splurges on ice cream, products that were once a luxury but are now a growing staple in the diets of millions of Indonesians. But the livestock sector is a major contributor to climate change -- accounting for 14.5 percent of the total global amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization -- more than those produced from powering all the world’s road vehicles, trains, ships and planes combined. Emissions are predicted to jump dramatically as demand skyrockets -- the FAO predicts consumption of meat and dairy is expected to have risen 76 per cent and 65 per cent respectively by 2050. Nowhere is this insatiable appetite growing faster than in Asia, where a huge, new middle class is consuming animal products like never before as tastes change and incomes rise. Consumers in China and India are driving this trend but demand in emerging economies such as Indonesia -- a country of 250 million with a rapidly growing middle class -- is also tipped to explode. For consumers like Sari, a 31-year-old accountant living in the cosmopolitan capital Jakarta, livestock products that were once rarely consumed outside major religious holidays, if at all, are now in abundant supply. She grew up in rural Sumatra eating red meat once or twice a year, with little on offer besides rendang, a traditional spicy beef stew. “Meat is no longer a luxury now and there are so many choices, like steak," she told AFP. "In Jakarta you can find all kinds of ice cream, yoghurt and other dairy products. It’s great." Christabelle Adeline Palar, a 25-year-old editor at a travel magazine, barely remembers eating meat as a child but now with a disposable income and an array of options, she knows what she wants. "It's always meat," she said of her daily food choices, "except for days where I need to be more thrifty. Indonesians still consume less meat than their Asian neighbours -- averaging 2.7 kilograms per person every year, compared to 8 kilograms in Malaysia -- but this is changing. London-based think tank Chatham House ranks Indonesia a top-ten nation for forecast growth in beef, pork and chicken consumption by 2021. Jakarta and its affluent, densely populated suburbs lead the way in meat consumption. People there -- often young with cash to spare -- eat around 12 kilograms of meat annually. “Not only can they afford it, but there are many cafes and restaurants in the city that serve meat,” Asnawi, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Meat Traders (APDI), who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP. Dairy producers are also optimistic. The Indonesian Association of Milk Producers says the market potential for dairy in Southeast Asia's largest economy is "tremendous", while New Zealand's Fonterra declared Indonesia one of its most important global markets when it opened its first local factory in September, predicting soaring demand as the "large and increasingly affluent population" seeks new products. Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesia's dairy is imported, mainly from New Zealand and Australia, but local producers are also riding the wave as consumption grows. “Our family only had about 20 cows when we first relocated here. Now we have 70," dairy producer Rahmat said from his small ranch on the outskirts of Jakarta. Ruminant animals emit huge amounts of methane, a gas that is more than 20 times more efficient than carbon dioxide in trapping the sun's heat, through belching and flatulence. Nitrous oxide, another potent greenhouse gas, is also released by manure and fertilisers. Growing population, urbanisation and incomes will increase global demand for meat and dairy, the FAO says, creating a "pressing" need to reduce the livestock sector's environmental footprint. A 2013 report by the UN body says emissions could be reduced by 30 percent if farmers adopted better practices -- including quality feed, good manure management and improved breeding and animal health. But a recent review by the International Panel on Climate Change found the greatest potential for cutting emissions is a change in consumer habits.

Climate change has already begun to affect the world’s food production, a new report from the United Nations warns — and unless significant action is taken, it could put millions more people at risk of hunger and poverty in the next few decades. It’s a message that’s been emphasized over and over by climate scientists and has informed many of the UN’s sustainable development goals and positions on global food security. But this is the first time it’s been the primary focus of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s annual State of Food and Agriculture report, its flagship publication, which centers on a different topic each year. Recent subjects have included social protection and anti-poverty measures, innovation in family farming and designing food systems for better nutrition. The new 194-page report, just released Monday, is a testament to growing alarm among scientists and policymakers over the dire threat climate change poses to future food security. It describes a vicious cycle in which unsustainable farming practices contribute hefty greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and drive more warming, which can then continue to hurt global crop production. Under a severe climate change scenario, the report points out, research suggests that 122 million more people could be living in extreme poverty by the year 2030 compared to a future with no climate change. Even under a low-impact climate scenario, this number could be as high as 35 million more people. “Hunger, poverty and climate change need to be tackled together,” said Food and Agriculture Organization director-general José Graziano da Silva, in a foreword to the new report. “This is, not least, a moral imperative as those who are now suffering most have contributed least to the changing climate.” Indeed, while the impact of climate change on agriculture is expected to become increasingly severe in all parts of the world post-2030, the report notes that the most vulnerable populations include producers in developing countries whose livelihoods depend on farming. Global declines in production may also radiate throughout the world in the form of higher food prices, placing a greater strain on already vulnerable low-income communities. According to the report, “meeting the goals of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030, while addressing the threat of climate change, will require a profound transformation of food and agriculture systems worldwide.” The report describes a variety of adaptation and mitigation techniques that can help move this transformation forward. Agriculture, forestry and land use changes, taken as a whole, are responsible for about one fifth of all global greenhouse gas emissions, the report points out. So adopting more sustainable farming practices and preventing deforestation, which often takes place to clear land for agriculture, can help mitigate climate change from the ground up. And given the huge contributions of the meat industry alone — from the methane produced by cattle to the sheer amount of land and resources required to raise livestock — a push toward a more plant-based diet worldwide could also save substantial amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Preparation for the impact of climate change could include diversifying the types of crops farmers raise, researching and adopting more heat-resistant plant varieties and investing in better soil conservation techniques, which may help prevent some of the production losses expected in a warming world. All of these strategies will require greater investments from the international community, the report points out. It suggests that more of the funds intended for climate mitigation should be directed into the agriculture sector. Making these investments may be critical if the world is to meet the global climate goals set forward in the Paris Agreement — namely, keeping warming within at least a 2-degree temperature threshold. One recent study has suggested that greenhouse gas emissions from farming must fall by a billion tons per year by the year 2030 if the world is to stay on track. And, as the report points out, meeting climate goals will likely drastically reduce the food-related risks associated with future warming. In these ways, climate change, sustainable agriculture and global food security are inextricably bound up with one another, and efforts to tackle one have profound consequences for the others. The new report drives this point home just one day after World Food Day, celebrated on Sunday. It also comes at the start of the 43rd Committee on World Food Security meetings, convening in Rome this week. And in a Friday address to world leaders, Graziano da Silva reaffirmed the risk climate change poses to the global food supply. “We cannot allow the impacts of climate change to overshadow our vision of a world free of hunger and malnutrition, where food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all, especially the poorest,” he said. “No one can be left behind.”

News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row, according to the UN. It means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century. The scorching temperatures around the world, and the extreme weather they drive, mean the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, published on Monday at the global climate summit in Morocco, found the global temperature in 2016 is running 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. This is perilously close to to the 1.5C target included as an aim of the Paris climate agreement last December. The El Niño weather phenomenon helped push temperatures even higher in early 2016 but the global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities remains the strongest factor. “Another year. Another record,” said WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. “The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.” “Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen,” he said. “‘Once in a generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular.” The WMO said human-induced global warming had contributed to at least half the extreme weather events studied in recent years, with the risk of extreme heat increasing by 10 times in some cases. “It is almost as if mother nature is making a statement,” said climate scientist Michael Mann, at Penn State University in the US. “Just as one of the planet’s two largest emitters of carbon has elected a climate change denier [Donald Trump] - who has threatened to pull out of the Paris accord - to the highest office, she reminds us that she has the final word.” “Climate change is not like other issues that can be postponed from one year to the next,” he said. “The US and world are already behind; speed is of the essence, because climate change and its impacts are coming sooner and with greater ferocity than anticipated.” The record-smashing heat led to searing heatwaves across the year: a new high of 42.7C was recorded in Pretoria, South Africa in January; Mae Hong Son in Thailand saw 44.6C on 28 April; Phalodi in India reached 51.0C in May and Mitribah in Kuwait recorded 54.0C in July. Parts of Arctic Russia also saw extreme warming - 6C to 7C above average. Arctic ice reached its equal second-lowest extent in the satellite record in September while warm oceans saw coral mortality of up to 50% in parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Extreme weather and climate related events have damaged farming and food security, affecting more than 60 million people, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has also broken records in 2016, with May seeing the highest monthly value yet - 407.7 ppm - at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii. The forecast for 2017 is another very hot year, but probably not a record breaker. “As the El Niño wanes, we don’t anticipate that 2017 will be another record-breaking year,” said Dr Peter Stott at the UK’s Met Office. “But 2017 is likely to be warmer than any year prior to the last two decades because of the underlying extent of [human-caused] warming due to the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.” However, another analysis released at the UN summit in Morocco showed that global carbon emissions have barely grown in the last three years, following decades of strong growth. The main reason is China burning less coal. Professor Corinne Le Quéré, at University of East Anglia in the UK, who led the analysis, said: “This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth. This is a great help for tackling climate change but it is not enough. Global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing.” The WMO’s temperature analysis combines the three main records, from the Met Office, Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and stretches back to 1880.

News Article | December 16, 2016
Site: www.newscientist.com

A major menace looms over us. In 2017, many more people could begin dying from common bacterial infections. As resistance to antibiotics booms, diseases from gonorrhoea to urinary tract infections are becoming untreatable – a situation that looks set to get worse as the world reaches a new tipping point next year. “We are about to reach the point where more antibiotics will be consumed by farm animals worldwide than by humans,” says Mark Woolhouse, at the University of Edinburgh, UK. This will mean more resistant bacteria, which could be a big threat. The livestock industry has long played down any risk to human health caused by using antibiotics in farming, but the danger is now accepted, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Colistin, a drug that is used more often in animals than people, is one example. It is now the only antibiotic left that works against some human infections, yet colistin resistance has developed, and spread worldwide in 2015. The European Medicines Agency says bacteria resistant to colistin probably arose in livestock, and that some EU countries could easily cut their use of this antibiotic 25-fold. The UN General Assembly has called for countries to encourage the best use of antibiotics. But it hasn’t yet called for specific measures, such as banning their use to assist livestock growth – rather than fight infections – which can promote resistance. At least agencies like the FAO are calling for change, says Woolhouse, as is China, where growing demand for meat has lead to soaring livestock production and resistance. But progress will require finding other ways to keep animals healthy, especially in poor countries where production is growing fastest and there are few alternatives. “Soon more antibiotics will be consumed by animals than by people” This article appeared in print under the headline “Antibiotic resistance hits crisis point”

News Article | November 22, 2016
Site: www.newscientist.com

Bird flu is back, and it’s got nastier – for birds, at least. The H5N8 virus has spread into Europe and is killing wild birds as well as invading poultry farms – a major worry for farmers in the run-up to the festive season. So far the virus doesn’t seem to infect humans, but it is evolving. The current strain is descended from the H5N1 virus, which started killing poultry in China in 1996, and then people too. H5N1 exploded across east Asia in 2004 with the poultry trade, and then spread into Europe and Africa in 2006, thanks to migrating birds. Since then, the virus has lurked mainly in poultry, especially flu-vaccinated chickens in Asia that can carry the virus while being immune to it. So far, 452 people have died after catching it from poultry. But viruses like H5N1 have also been moving with migrating dabbling ducks like mallards, which are usually immune to it. Birds from all over Eurasia mingle in north-central Asia during the summer, swap viruses, then disperse back to Africa, Asia and Europe for the winter. This has recently allowed H5N1 to hybridise with other kinds of flu. “We do not know what is driving the plethora of H5s,” although changes in climate and migration may be involved, says Julio Pinto at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. As Europe’s poultry farmers fatten up their geese and turkeys for Christmas, one hybrid of H5N1 is now giving them sleepless nights. H5N8 appeared in China in 2014, before spreading with migrating ducks into Japan, Korea and across Russia into north-western Europe, including the UK. It also reached Canada and the US, devastating poultry farms until it was stamped out. It now seems to be gone from North America, says David Swayne at the US National Poultry Research Center in Athens, Georgia. It appeared to cause few deaths in wild birds in 2014, and failed to reappear in Eurasia the following winter. But in June, H5N8 caused a mass die-off of wild birds in the Uvs-Nuur basin between Russia and Mongolia, a protected biodiversity hotspot. This time round H5N8 has spread west along northern and southern migration routes into India, the Middle East and Europe, as birds have escaped colder weather in recent weeks. The virus is expected to spread further as lakes freeze and ducks keep searching for open water. Dozens of farms in Denmark, Switzerland and Germany are now infected. Free-range poultry such as geese have now been moved indoors, away from wild birds. Turkeys are extremely susceptible to the virus, and 9000 turkeys were killed last week on an infected farm in Hungary, a country that produces many turkeys and geese for Christmas. Unlike the 2014 strain, the virus is also killing wild birds, including swans, gulls, grebes and tufted ducks. Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, says H5N8 has picked up new genes from flu strains in wild birds, which could be making it deadly to more species. The Friedrich Löffler Institute in Insel Riems, Germany, is now testing different species for susceptibility to the virus. While humans have so far escaped infection, the World Health Organization says the risk “cannot be excluded”. “You can’t be complacent about these viruses,” says Ab Osterhaus, head of the newly launched Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses in Hannover, Germany. Osterhaus’s team found that the 2014 H5N8 strain could infect ferrets, the mammal used to model human flu. And he points to the seemingly harmless H7N7 bird flu outbreak in the Netherlands in 2003 that infected hundreds and killed a vet. “We need to learn much more about the ecology of these viruses,” he says. “They might just die out in wild birds if they don’t sometimes spill over into big poultry populations.” Farmers fattening turkeys and geese for year-end feasts are hoping this week that they won’t be the ones to suffer the next spill-over. Read more: Five easy mutations to make bird flu a lethal pandemic

News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: phys.org

The armyworm has already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana, with reports also suggesting Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia are affected. Experts say it appears to be the first time that the "fall armyworm" species from the Americas has caused widespread damage in Africa. "So, farmers do not know really how to treat it," said David Phiri, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's coordinator for southern Africa. "Nobody seems to know how it reached Africa," he said, adding that it started in places like Nigeria and Togo, which had it last year. One theory is that the caterpillars arrived in Africa on commercial flights from South America or in plants imported from the region. The caterpillars eat maize, wheat, millet and rice—key food sources in southern and eastern Africa, where many areas are already struggling with shortages after the most severe drought in recent years. Experts from 13 countries will spend three days at the summit in the Zimbabwean capital forming a battle plan to defeat the pests. The armyworm is "spreading rapidly" in Africa and could threaten farming worldwide, the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) warned last week. It said maize is particularly vulnerable to the larvae, which attack the crop's growing points and burrow into the cobs. Unlike the native African armyworm, the fall armyworm does not "march" along the ground in huge numbers seeking more food, the FAO said. "This sequence of outbreaks began in mid-December 2016 in Zambia," Kenneth Wilson, professor at Lancaster University in Britain, wrote in a briefing paper Monday. "It is now as far south as South Africa. Because armyworms feed on many of the staple food crops they have the potential to create food shortages in the region." The fall armyworm also attacks cotton, soybean, potato and tobacco fields. Chemical pesticides can be effective, but fall armyworms have developed resistance in their native Americas. "You use different methods. One of them is pesticides, another is to use biological control. Another is to use natural control, like digging trenches around the farm (or) natural predators, like birds, to eat those worms," said Phiri. "If it is a small level of the worms, it's easy to control, using pesticides. Otherwise, it's very difficult to control it, so they will have to use different methods—including sometimes burning the crops." Zimbabwe's deputy agriculture minister Davis Marapira confirmed to AFP that the pest had been detected in all of the country's 10 provinces. "The government is helping farmers with chemicals and spraying equipment," Marapira said. The FAO, which is hosting the Harare meeting, said armyworm outbreaks combined with current locust problems "could be catastrophic" as southern Africa has yet to recover from droughts caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon. In December, Zambia deployed its national air force to transport pesticides across the country so that fields could be sprayed.

News Article | April 29, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

The price of steaks might increase in Denmark because the country mulls about taxing beef and other red meats in its battle against climate change. The Danish Council of Ethics, an independent body that advises the government, announced that Danes have an ethical obligation to reduce the impact of climate change and they could do this by lowering their red meat consumption. "An effective response to climate-damaging foods that will also contribute to raising awareness of climate change must be united, which requires that society sends a clear signal through regulation," said Mickey Gjerris, a spokesman for the council. The majority of council members (14 of 17) said they support the "red meat tax." The council recommends an initial tax on beef, but will include other red meats in the future. It added that other food products that will be deemed harmful to the environment could also be taxed. "The Danish way of life is far from climate-sustainable, and if we are to live up to the Paris Agreement target of keeping the global temperature rise 'well' below 2 degrees Celsius, it is necessary both to act quickly and involve food," the council said. Animal agriculture accounts for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the overall emissions from all types of transport across the globe, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said. It is a common notion that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are the key factor that contributes to the growing problem of global warming. Scientists, however, believe that there are other key factors that contribute to climate change, including global food production, animal agriculture and waste disposal. Animal agriculture or farming may be one of the major key drivers of climate change. This produces two other main greenhouse gases, which are methane and nitrous oxide. About 10 percent of all emissions are from cattle and more than 43,000 liters of fresh water are required to manufacture just 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of beef. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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