Can our agricultural and food systems meet the challenges of the fight against climate change? To learn more about the direction our production and consumption habits should follow, discover the point of view of Maria-Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO.
Transform our food systems to fight climate change
Climate change defines our time—the last five years have been the hottest on record, with significant rise in sea-levels and CO2 emissions. These data translate into global challenges for feeding a growing population and preserving our planet. While agriculture and food systems do contribute to climate change, they are also part of the long-term solution. Actions to make the agricultural sectors sustainable are among the most effective measures to adapt to, and mitigate, climate change.
Simple solutions with great impact
First, adopting best practices in livestock feeding and manure management can reduce livestock emissions by 33%. Making better use of technologies like biogas generators and energy-saving devices, such as heat pumps and thermal isolation, can also be part of the transformation to sustainable agriculture.
Second, land restoration strategies, such as the rehabilitation of degraded lands, but also planting trees, bushes and mangroves, can rebuild carbon sinks. They can at the same time increase crop yields, and soil and water quality, while protecting biodiversity and preserving ecosystem services. Ultimately, soil organic carbon could raise food production by 17.6 megatonnes per year and help maintain productivity in drier conditions.
Third, agroecology and agroforestry approaches also enhance carbon sequestration through the simultaneous combination of crop rotation and permanent soil cover. FAO estimates that alternate wetting and drying of rice fields reduces methane emissions from paddies by 45%, while saving water and producing yields similar to those of fully flooded rice.