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IICA-IFAD report highlights significant contributions of family farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean and pending challenges regarding action against climate change

De acuerdo con el reporte, el financiamiento, el fortalecimiento de capacidades, una mejor recopilación de datos para la toma de decisiones y la vinculación a los mercados son necesarios para incentivar una mayor producción resiliente al cambio climático.
According to the report, there is a need for funding, capacity-building, improved data collection for decision-making and linkages across markets in order to incentivize climate change-resilient production. 

San Jose, 5 September 2022 (IICA) – Family farming is highly vulnerable to climate change-related extreme weather events, a vulnerability that is exacerbated by a lack of funding, the deterioration of soil health and high production costs. In Latin America and the Caribbean, this sector is making important contributions to resilience, adaptation and mitigation, however, which often go unnoticed.

These are the conclusions of the document entitled “Paris Agreement and agriculture: A look at the implementation of NDCs in Latin America”, prepared by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

The report presents the implementation status in agriculture of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, which were set to implement the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

This year, agriculture and its contributions to mitigating climate change and to sustainability will be a key topic of discussion at the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UNFCCC due to the challenges imposed by the climate crisis and the opportunities it presents for the sector to incorporate science, innovation and technology into food production to help ensure food and nutrition security for the planet.

On the road to COP27, scheduled to take place in November 2022 in Egypt, IICA will facilitate a consensus-building process among the ministers and secretaries of agriculture of the Americas geared toward presenting a unified position at the climate forum. The authorities will participate in the discussion scheduled for September 22-23 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Challenges facing family farming in the fight against climate change

The report prepared by IFAD and IICA shows important progress in the implementation of the commitments made by the countries to face climate change at the sector level, better prioritization of actions and greater participation of agricultural stakeholders in this objective. But it also shows gaps in the dissemination of action plans, innovation, funding and recording of the contributions made by family farming to the NDCs. 

“We must coordinate the best practices that are being implemented in the countries by means of a network in order to quantify them. Without data, we will not have the support necessary to recognize the contributions of family farming”, said Miguel Altamirano, INNOVA-AF Coordinator, a project executed by IICA and funded by IFAD. 

According to the report, there is a need for funding, capacity-building, improved data collection for decision-making and linkages across markets in order to incentivize climate change-resilient production. 

The report is based on interviews with over 70 authorities of agriculture and the environment and public and private specialists from the aforementioned countries. It puts on the table the potential contribution of family farming to the attainment of the Paris Agreement objectives. 

“The contribution of smallholders still needs to gain visibility within the NDCs in order for their efforts to be taken into account and rewarded; this is very important in terms of the architecture of international funding of rural development and climate change adaptation, primarily in the research, development and innovation of family farming”, commented Frederico Lacerda, Operations and Project Analyst for IFAD in Brazil. 

Kelly Witkowski, IICA Climate Action and Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager, said that “agriculture is unique in its potential to promote synergies between adaptation and emissions reduction and requires more technical resources and funding to increase and drive its contribution to the response to climate change”.

“There is no question that the effects of climate change put additional pressure on small- and medium-scale farming and critical resources like water. In our region, there are close to 21 million small and medium-holdings—they cannot be left out”, affirmed Mario León, Territorial Development and Family Farming Program Manager for IICA. 

The countries included in the study have, to a greater or lesser extent, legal frameworks and institutional arrangements in place to develop the capacities of their agricultural sector and participate in the climate agenda and in the NDC implementation processes. However, despite the sector’s contributions to achieving the objectives and priorities, its progress still lags compared to other sectors that are more exposed to the climate agenda, such as the environmental and energy sectors.

Verónica Bunge, Director of Climate Change Support in Priority Areas with Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER), affirms that “we must recognize the heterogeneity that exists in production systems and strive for the coexistence of all systems. While family farming is fundamental, we also have industrial agriculture, and we must determine how to include it in sustainability processes within the territory. This is essential if we are to promote collective action”. 

“The main lesson learned in the NDC process in Colombia is that we must prioritize adaptation in our countries. Our farmers are more and more vulnerable every day—smallholders do not have much capacity to adapt in terms of resources or technology. We must work very closely with them with specific strategies and promote the traditional seeds the communities have because they are very resilient to climate change”, expressed Nelson Lozano, Forestry Coordinator with Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

“If we want to be more ambitious in terms of the NDCs, it is essential to prioritize measures based on national and territorial conditions”, stated Tatiana Paredes, Risks and Agricultural Assurance Director with the Secretariat of Agricultural Innovation Networks of Ecuador’s Ministry of Agriculture. 

More information:
Institutional Communication Division.