3. Climate Change and the Right to Food

Anna Lee James – 814003910

Climate Change is a global phenomenon and the effects are detrimental. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) describe it as “a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city. This change can be in a region’s average annual rainfall or it could be a change in a city’s average temperature for a given month or season. It further states that Climate change is also a change in Earth’s overall climate, the  change in Earth’s average temperature and  Earth’s typical precipitation patterns. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the world and it is also highly dependent on climate. The impact on climate change on the agriculture sector is damaging and it is a cause for concern. These effects includes: unfavourable weather conditions contributing to low productivity, increase in pest and diseases as a result of prolong rainfall, heat stress and other negative factors.

The term ‘Right to Adequate Food’ is derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in 2002 defined the “right to adequate food” as follows: “Right to adequate food is a human right, inherent in all people, to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective fulfilling and dignified life free of fear.”The pressing issue here is how we can ensure food adequacy where there is this global phenomenon like climate change and the sector that we rely on for food is highly dependent on climate and it is changing! Approximately, two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and 78% of agricultural methane emissions come from the livestock sector. It is evident that to deal with this pressing issue three things must be taken into consideration: 1.farmers must come up with new alternatives that will help limit the amount of methane emissions coming from their practices or the raring of their livestock, 2.farmers must develop and implement technologies or practices to ensure productivity and proper health of their animals and 3. Implement measures to reduce the impacts of Climate Change on food security.

According to the article “The ground exhales: reducing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions”, there are a number of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms, but none is completely simple. It states that, in climates where the ground freezes, overwintering plants on the soil (that is, leaving plants intact on the soil surface after harvest instead of ploughing them in or removing them in the fall) can help reduce nitrous oxide emissions. Secondly, limiting inputs of nitrogen to just the amount likely to be usable by plants can reduce emissions. Furthermore, Farmers can also implement management practices, such as incorporating proper waste disposal systems to effectively get rid of waste. The waste can be treated and used to fertilize the soil. This treatment includes bio gas digesters in intensive farming systems to reduce methane releases.

Additionally , Climate change will affect people’s ability to access food chiefly via purchase.  Climate change is also likely to affect the geography of production at large scales –shifts in areas of crop or livestock production suitability, which could have substantial impacts on prices, trade flows and food access. Not only farmers have to play a role in food adequacy but other sectors as well as the government. Initiatives must be put into place to ensure sustainability and productivity. Some iniatives can include: strategic design of land use options based on agro-ecological analysis and farmer typologies, ii) promoting climate-smart technologies and maximizing synergies amongst interventions; iii) providing value-added weather services to local farmers to manage variability; iv) promoting weather-based insurance options for climate risk management; v) facilitating community partnership for knowledge sharing; and vi) capacity development in climate change adaptation. Furthermore , water-smart practices (rainwater harvesting, laser land levelling, micro-irrigation, raised bed planting, change in crop establishment methods), weather-smart activities (ICT-based agro-advisories, index-based insurance, stress tolerant crop varieties), nutrient-smart practices (site specific nutrient management, precision fertilizers, residue management, legume catch-cropping), carbon- and energy-smart practices (agroforestry, conservation tillage, residue management, legumes, livestock management) and knowledge-smart activities (farmer-to-farmer learning, capacity development, community seed banks and cooperatives, crop diversification, market information and off-farm risk management).

Although climate Change is a pressing issue in the world today, we must take measure to reduce these risks on our food security.

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