The emergence of market-based instruments (MBIs) in the field of ecosystem services has been spectacular but still lacks a clear conceptualization. Terms are overused and abused in discourses, and contrasted policy instruments are referred to as market-oriented albeit with few characteristics in common. Realities on the ground differ substantially from attractive yet misleading propositions supported by public and private discourses. Both advocates and opponents to these approaches thus propose arguments poorly relying on facts and fueling confusion. Payments for environmental services (PES) have flourished and constitute the emblematic and perfect example of a policy instrument that proves more complex and polymorphous than usually acknowledged. Born from the promises of spontaneous agreements between beneficiaries and providers of services for their mutual interest, it has been viewed by most analysts as a popular MBI. We challenge this view by confronting 73 peer-reviewed articles to a typology of MBIs.
Background: Methyl bromide, a fungicide often used in strawberry cultivation, is of concern for residents who live near agricultural applications because of its toxicity and potential for drift. Little is known about the effects of methyl bromide exposure during pregnancy.
Objective: We investigated the relationship between residential proximity to methyl bromide use and birth outcomes.
Methods: Participants were from the CHAMACOS (Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas) study (n = 442), a longitudinal cohort study examining the health effects of environmental exposures on pregnant women and their children in an agricultural community in northern California. Using data from the California Pesticide Use Reporting system, we employed a geographic information system to estimate the amount of methyl bromide applied within 5 km of a woman’s residence during pregnancy. Multiple linear regression models were used to estimate associations between trimester-specific proximity to use and birth weight, length, head circumference, and gestational age.
Results: High methyl bromide use (vs. no use) within 5 km of the home during the second trimester was negatively associated with birth weight (β = –113.1 g; CI: –218.1, –8.1), birth length (β = –0.85 cm; CI: –1.44, –0.27), and head circumference (β = –0.33 cm; CI: –0.67, 0.01). These outcomes were also associated with moderate methyl bromide use during the second trimester. Negative associations with fetal growth parameters were stronger when larger (5 km and 8 km) versus smaller (1 km and 3 km) buffer zones were used to estimate exposure.
Conclusions: Residential proximity to methyl bromide use during the second trimester was associated with markers of restricted fetal growth in our study.
Key words: birth outcomes, birth weight, fumigants, methyl bromide, pesticides, residential proximity
Developing and developed countries alike need a paradigm shift in agricultural development: from a “green revolution” to a “truly ecological intensification” approach. This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high external-input-dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers. We need to see a move from a linear to a holistic approach in agricultural management, which recognizes that a farmer is not only a producer of agricultural goods, but also a manager of an agro-ecological system that provides quite a number of public goods and services (e.g. water, soil, landscape, energy, biodiversity, and recreation) UNCTAD’s Trade and Environment Review 2013 (TER13) contends.
TER13 highlights that the required transformation is much more profound than simply tweaking the existing industrial agricultural system. Rather, what is called for is a better understanding of the multi-functionality of agriculture, its pivotal importance for pro-poor rural development and the significant role it can play in dealing with resource scarcities and in mitigating and adapting to climate change. However, the sheer scale at which modified production methods would have to be adopted, the significant governance issues, the power asymmetries’ problems in food input and output markets as well as the current trade rules for agriculture pose considerable challenges.
TER13, entitled Wake up Before it is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate was released on 18 September 2013. More than 60 international experts have contributed their views to a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and the most suitable strategic approaches for dealing holistically with the inter-related problems of hunger and poverty, rural livelihoods, social and gender inequity, poor health and nutrition, and climate change and environmental sustainability – one of the most interesting and challenging subjects of present development discourse.
Agricultural development, the report underlines, is at a true crossroads. By way of illustration, food prices in the period 2011 to mid-2013 were almost 80% higher than for the period 2003-2008. Global fertilizer use increased by 8 times in the past 40 years, although global cereal production has scarcely doubled at the same time. The growth rates of agricultural productivity have recently declined from 2% to below 1% per annum. The two global environmental limits that have already been crossed (nitrogen contamination of soils and waters and biodiversity loss) were caused by agriculture. GHG emissions from agriculture are not only the single biggest source of global warming in the South, besides the transport sector, they are also the most dynamic. The scale of foreign land acquisitions (often also termed land grabbing) dwarfs the level of Official Development Assistance, the former being 5-10 times higher in value than the latter in recent years.
Most important of all, despite the fact that the world currently already produces sufficient calories per head to feed a global population of 12-14 billion, hunger has remained a key challenge. Almost one billion people chronically suffer from starvation and another billion are mal-nourished. Some 70% of these people are themselves small farmers or agricultural laborers. Therefore, hunger and mal-nutrition are not phenomena of insufficient physical supply, but results of prevailing poverty, and above all problems of access to food. Enabling these people to become food self-sufficient or earn an appropriate income through agriculture to buy food needs to take center stage in future agricultural transformation. Furthermore, the current demand trends for excessive biofuel and concentrate animal feed use of cereals and oil seeds, much too high meat-based diets and post-harvest food waste are regarded as given, rather than challenging their rational. Questionably, priority in international policy discussions remains heavily focused on increasing industrial agricultural production, mostly under the slogan “growing more food at less cost to the environment”.
The strategy recommended to developing countries of relying on international markets to meet staple food demand, while specializing in the production and export of ‘lucrative’ cash crops has not produced the intended results, because it relied on low staple food prices and no shortage of supply in international markets, conditions that have drastically changed since the turn of the century. Globalization has also encouraged excessive specialization, increasing scale of production of few crops and enormous cost pressure. All this has aggravated the environmental crisis of agriculture and reduced agricultural resilience. What is now required is a shift towards diverse production patterns that reflect the multi-functionality of agriculture and enhance close nutrient cycles. Moreover, as environmental externalities are mainly not internalized, carbon taxes are the rare exception rather than the rule and carbon-offset markets are largely dysfunctional – all factors that would prioritize regional/local food production through ‘logical’ market mechanisms – trade rules need to allow a higher regional focus of agriculture along the lines of “as much regionalized/localized food production as possible; as much traded food as necessary”.
Climate change will drastically impact agriculture, primarily in those developing countries with the highest future population growth, i.e. in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Against this background, the fundamental transformation of agriculture may well turn out to be one of the biggest challenges, including for international security, of the 21st century. Much slower agricultural productivity growth in the future, a quickly rising population in the most resource-constrained and climate-change-exposed regions and a burgeoning environmental crises of agriculture are the seeds for mounting pressures on food security and the related access to land and water. This is bound to increase the frequency and severity of riots, caused by food-price hikes, with concomitant political instability, and international tension, linked to resource conflicts and migratory movements of starving populations.
Large-scale land acquisitions are increasing in pace and scale, in particular across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Weak governance and poor land use planning mean that commercial ‘land grabs’ often damage biodiversity as well as dispossessing people from customary rights and livelihoods. Land can also be ‘grabbed’ for ‘green’ purposes, triggering conflicts that undermine potential synergies. Expanded state protected areas, land for carbon offset markets and REDD, and for private conservation projects all potentially conflict with community rights. Such conflict is counterproductive because secure customary and communal land tenure helps enable sustainable natural resource management by local communities. This briefing presents the experience of international development, wildlife and human rights practitioners, shared at a symposium on land grabbing and conservation in March 2013.
Download the paper: http://pubs.iied.org/17166IIED
Direct economic costs of $750 billion annually – Better policies required, and “success stories” need to be scaled up and replicated
11 September 2013, Rome - The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself, says a new FAO report.
Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources is the first study to analyze the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity.
Among its key findings: Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere.
And beyond its environmental impacts, the direct economic consequences to producers of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually, FAO’s report estimates.
“All of us – farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers — must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can’t,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
“We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day,” he added.
As a companion to its new study, FAO has also published a comprehensive “tool-kit” that contains recommendations on how food loss and waste can be reduced at every stage of the food chain.
The tool-kit profiles a number of projects around the world that show how national and local governments, farmers, businesses, and individual consumers can take steps to tackle the problem.
Achim Steiner, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, said: “UNEP and FAO have identified food waste and loss –food wastage– as a major opportunity for economies everywhere to assist in a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and inclusive Green Economy. Today’s excellent report by FAO underlines the multiple benefits that can be realized– in many cases through simple and thoughtful measures by for example households, retailers, restaurants, schools and businesses– that can contribute to environmental sustainability, economic improvements, food security and the realization of the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. We would urge everyone to adopt the motto of our joint campaign: Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Foodprint!”.
UNEP and FAO are founding partners of the Think Eat Save – Reduce Your Foodprint campaign that was launched earlier in the year and whose aim is to assist in coordinating worldwide efforts to manage down wastage.
Where wastage happens
Fifty-four percent of the world’s food wastage occurs “upstream” during production, post-harvest handling and storage, according to FAO’s study. Forty-six percent of it happens “downstream,” at the processing, distribution and consumption stages.
As a general trend, developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher in middle- and high-income regions — where it accounts for 31-39 percent of total wastage — than in low-income regions (4-16 percent).
The later a food product is lost along the chain, the greater the environmental consequences, FAO’s report notes, since the environmental costs incurred during processing, transport, storage and cooking must be added to the initial production costs.
Several world food wastage “hot-spots” stand out in the study:
Wastage of cereals in Asia is a significant problem, with major impacts on carbon emissions and water and land use. Rice’s profile is particularly noticeable, given its high methane emissions combined with a large level of wastage.
While meat wastage volumes in all world regions is comparatively low, the meat sector generates a substantial impact on the environment in terms of land occupation and carbon footprint, especially in high-income countries and Latin America, which in combination account for 80 percent of all meat wastage. Excluding Latin America, high-income regions are responsible for about 67 percent of all meat wastage
Fruit wastage contributes significantly to water waste in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, mainly as a result of extremely high wastage levels.
Similarly, large volumes of vegetable wastage in industrialized Asia, Europe, and South and South East Asia translates into a large carbon footprint for that sector.
Causes of food wastage – and options for addressing them
A combination of consumer behavior and lack of communication in the supply chain underlies the higher levels of food waste in affluent societies, according to FAO. Consumers fail to plan their shopping, overpurchase, or over-react to “best-before-dates,” while quality and aesthetic standards lead retailers to reject large amounts of perfectly edible food.
In developing countries, significant post-harvest losses in the early part of the supply chain are a key problem, occurring as a result of financial and structural limitations in harvesting techniques and storage and transport infrastructure, combined with climatic conditions favorable to food spoilage.
To tackle the problem, FAO’s toolkit details three general levels where action is needed:
High priority should be given to reducing food wastage in the first place. Beyond improving losses of crops on farms due to poor practices, doing more to better balance production with demand would mean not using natural resources to produce unneeded food in the first place.
In the event of a food surplus, re-use within the human food chain– finding secondary markets or donating extra food to feed vulnerable members of society– represents the best option. If the food is not fit for human consumption, the next best option is to divert it for livestock feed, conserving resources that would otherwise be used to produce commercial feedstuff.
Where re-use is not possible, recycling and recovery should be pursued: by-product recycling, anaerobic digestion, compositing, and incineration with energy recovery allow energy and nutrients to be recovered from food waste, representing a significant advantage over dumping it in landfills. Uneaten food that ends up rotting in landfills is a large producer of methane, a particularly harmful GHG.
Funding for the Food Wastage Footprint report and toolkit was provided by the government of Germany.
Proceedings of the National Workshop – “Evolving an Operational Framework for Rainfed Farming Systems Program under the 12th Five Year Plan”, held at CRIDA, Hyderabad on 14th – 15th, May 2013.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP:
The Working Group on “NRM and Rainfed Farming” constituted by the Planning Commission evolved a framework for integrated and convergent development of rainfed agriculture after several consultations. The 12th Five Year Plan document subsequently suggested initiating a National Program on Rainfed Farming under the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.
The proposed program is expected to make a significant departure from the conventional input-subsidy centric crop production improvement in favour of a decentralized, location specific, integrated and comprehensive investment for revitalizing rainfed agriculture with Block as a unit. Interventions evolved locally are expected to strengthen various production systems and their interactions with Natural Resources with farmers’ organizations leading the process.
A National workshop was organized at CRIDA on 14th-15th May, 2013 to evolve operational modalities for such a program for the 12th Plan. The workshop was convened jointly by the RRA network, ICAR/CRIDA and FAO with the Chairperson of the Working Group as the convener. The workshop was supported by FAO, India.
In addition to presenting the proceedings of the workshop, this publication details out the recommendations on operational modalities for the proposed program based on the deliberations in the workshop.
Please follow the link below to share the Workshop report on the RRA website:
Report shows more than 75% of the milk comes from indigenous and buffaloes
UP and Rajastan are two largest milk producing states in India ( ranking No.1 & 2 respectively) they in fact get more milk from Ind breeds than from exotic.
Draft for Discussion Purposes and Comments. Draft National Land Reforms. Policy. 18th July 2013. DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES AND COMMENTS.
In case you need some more “ammunition” for your policy-dialogue activities – also with a view to 2014 International Year of Family Farming:
The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE), the science-policy interface of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), aims to improve the robustness of policymaking by providing independent, evidence-based analysis and advice at the request of CFS. A report launched this week by the HLPE is focused on the potentials of smallholder agriculture (defined in a broad sense):
Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security
It stresses the importance of research for further development of agro-ecological approaches and states: ”Research that involves smallholders in the definition of research priorities and the design and execution of research according to participatory and empowering methodologies is crucial. This is the best way to ensure that research results respond to the complex social and economic, as well as ecological, contexts of smallholders. In order to achieve this, research systems must be more accountable to smallholders in terms of their institutional priorities, the impact of their work, and their funding.” (p 82).
One of the recommended policy instruments is “Participatory research programmes including smallholders’ organizations” (p 107).
PS for the CELEP and ELD e-lists: In the report,”smallholder farmers” explicitly include livestock-keepers and pastoralists.
Jikun Huang, Xiaobing Wang and Huanguang Qiu