Climate Change: IFAD Seeks Support for Small-scale Farmers

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If investments to help rural small-scale farmers adapt to climate change do not substantially increase, we risk widespread hunger and global instability, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert Houngbo has warned.

This followed a recent United Nations’ announcement that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record, with catastrophic temperature rises expected this century.
“It is unacceptable that small-scale farmers who grow much of the world’s food are left at the mercy of unpredictable weather patterns, with such low investment to help them to adapt,” a statement quoted Houngbo to have said.

“They do little to cause climate change, but suffer the most from its impacts. Their increasingly common crop failures and livestock deaths put our entire food system at risk.

“It is imperative that we ensure they remain on their land and sustainably produce nutritious food. If not, then hunger, poverty and migration will become even more widespread in the years to come,” he added.
In response, Houngbo will announce the launch of IFAD’s Enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+) at the Climate Adaptation Summit on January 26, alongside IFAD’s Goodwill Ambassadors Idris and Sabrina Elba, who will discuss the topic with Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium, and Dag Inge Ulstei, Norway’s Minister of International Development.

Only 1.7 per cent of global climate finance – a fraction of what is needed – goes to small-scale farmers in developing countries despite their disproportionate vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, according to a report released by IFAD in 2020.

ASAP+ intends to change this. It is envisioned to be the largest fund dedicated to channelling climate finance to small-scale producers. It aims to mobilise US$500 million to reduce climate change threats to food security, lower greenhouse gases and help more than 10 million people adapt to weather changes. Austria, Germany, Ireland and Qatar have already pledged commitments.

ASAP+ will focus on low income countries that depend the most on agriculture and face the greatest challenges in terms of food insecurity, rural poverty and exposure to climate change. It aims to bring four million hectares of degraded land under climate resilient practices, and sequester around 110 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over 20 years. It will also help countries achieve their nationally determined contributions set under the Paris agreement.

“Small-scale farmers in rural areas play a pivotal role in ensuring sustainability, stability, and security in the world. Climate adaptation funding must not leave them behind,” Director of IFAD’s climate change division, Jo Puri said.
“ASAP+ will contribute to the global call for reducing greenhouse gases while ensuring significant income-related benefits for rural farmers and other vulnerable people.”

Small-scale farming systems currently produce half of the world’s food calories, but are often entirely reliant on natural resources, including rain. As a result, they are at significant risk from increasing temperatures, erratic rainfall, pest infestations, rising sea levels, and extreme events such as floods, droughts, landslides, typhoons and heat waves.