After Bihar tragedy, FAO urges cut in hazardous pesticides

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/07/30/fao-pesticides-bihar-midday-meal-idINDEE96T07520130730?feedType=RSS&feedName=globalCoverage2

Reuters

30 July 2013

(Reuters) – Developing countries should speed up the withdrawal of highly hazardous pesticides from their markets following the death of 23 children from contaminated food in India, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization said on Tuesday.

The children in Bihar died earlier this month after eating a school meal of rice and potato curry contaminated with monocrotophos, a pesticide considered highly hazardous by the FAO and the World Health Organization.

“Experience in many developing countries shows that the distribution and use of such highly toxic products very often poses a serious risk to human health and the environment,” the FAO said in a statement.

Monocrotophos is banned in many countries but a panel of government experts in India was persuaded by manufacturers that the product was cheaper than alternatives and more effective in controlling pests that decimate crop output.

Although the government argues the benefits of strong pesticides outweigh the hazards if properly managed, the food poisoning tragedy underlined criticism such controls are virtually ignored on the ground.

The FAO said many countries lacked the resources to properly manage the storage, distribution, handling and disposal of pesticides and to reduce their risks.

“Highly hazardous products should not be available to small scale farmers who lack knowledge and the proper sprayers, protective gear and storage facilities to manage such products appropriately,” the FAO added.

Monocrotophos is currently prohibited in Australia, China, the European Union and the United States, and in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the FAO said.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Elizabeth Piper)

 

SUSTAINABLE DIETS AND BIODIVERSITY

http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3004e/i3004e.pdf

The book presents the current state of thought on the common path of sustainable diets and biodiversity. The articles contained herein were presented at the International Scientific Symposium “Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets: United Against Hunger” organized jointly by FAO and Bioversity International, held at FAO, in Rome, from 3 to 5 November 2010. The Symposium was part of the
official World Food Day/Week programme, and include done of the many activities in celebration of International Year of Biodiversity, 2010. The Symposium addressed the linkages among agriculture, biodiversity, nutrition, food production, food consumption and the environment.
The Symposium served as a platform for reaching a consensus definition of “sustainable diets” and to further develop this concept with food and nutrition security, and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, as objectives. In the early 1980s, the notion of “sustainable diets”was proposes, with dietary recommendations whichwould result in healthier environments as well as healthier consumers. But with the over-riding goal of feeding a hungry world, little attention was paid tothe sustainability of agro–ecological zones, the sustainable diets’ concept was neglected for many years.
Regardless of the many successes of agriculture during the last three decades, it is clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. FAO data show that one billion people suffer from hunger,while even more people are overweight or obese. In both groups, there is a high prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition. In spite of many efforts, the nutrition problems of the world are escalating. Improving nutrition through better balanced nutritious diets can also reduce the ecological impact of  dietary choices. Therefore, a shift to more sustainable diets would trigger upstream effects on the food production (e.g. diversification), processing chain and food consumption.

With growing academic recognition of environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, as well as a dramatically increasing body of evidence of the unsustainable nature of agriculture as it is currently practiced in many parts of the world, renewed attention
has been directed to sustainability in all its forms, including diets. Therefore, the international community acknowledged that a definition, and a set of guiding principles for sustainable diets, was urgently needed to address food and nutrition security
as well as sustainability along the whole food chain A working group was convened as part of the Symposium and a definition was debated, built upon previous efforts of governments (e.g., the Sustainability Commission of the UK), UN agencies (FAO/Bioversity Technical Workshop and Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets), and others. The definition was presented in a plenary session of the
Symposium and accepted by the participants, as follows: Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective
and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources. The agreed definition acknowledged the interdependencies of food production and consumption with food requirements and nutrient recommendations, and at the same time, reaffirmed the notion that the health of humans cannot be isolated from the health of ecosystems.

 

Investing in agriculture for a better future: FAO Report on Status of Agriculture 2012

Investing in agriculture is essential for reducing hunger and promoting sustainable agricultural production. Those parts of the world where agricultural capital per worker and public investments in agriculture have stagnated are the epicentres of poverty and hunger today. Demand growth over the coming decades will place increasing pressure on the natural resource base. Eradicating hunger sustainably will require a significant increase in agricultural investments, but also an improvement in their effectiveness. Farmers are the largest investors in developing country agriculture and must be central to any strategy for increasing investment in the sector, but if they are to invest more in agriculture they need a favourable climate for agricultural investment based on economic incentives and an enabling environment. Governments also have a special responsibility to help smallholders overcome the constraints they face in expanding their productive assets and to ensure that large-scale investments in agriculture are socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable. Government investment in agriculture is a crucial component of providing an enabling environment for private investments in the sector. Governments need to channel scarce public funds towards the provision of essential public goods with high economic and social returns.

 

FAO statistical yearbook 2012: world food and agriculture


This publication presents a visual synthesis of the major trends and factors shaping the global food and agricultural landscape and their interplay with broader environmental, social and economic dimensions. In doing so, it strives to serve as a unique reference point on the state of world food and agriculture for policy-makers, donor agencies, researchers and analysts as well as the general public.The book is subdivided into four thematic parts, where an attempt is made to exhaustively present the spectrum of issues relevant to the subject matter: 
  • Part 1 – The setting measures the state of the agricultural resource base, by assessing the supply of land, labour, capital, inputs and the adequacy of infrastructure, and also examines the pressure on the world food system stemming from demographic and macroeconomic change;
  • Part 2 – Hunger dimensions gauges the state of food insecurity and malnutrition, measuring the multitude of dimensions that give rise to hunger and those that shape undernourishment;
  • Part 3 – Feeding the world evaluates the past and present productive capacity of world agriculture together with the role of trade in meeting changing food, feed and other demands;
  • Part 4 – Sustainability dimensions examines the sustainability of agriculture in the context of the pressure it exerts on the environment, including the interaction of agriculture with climate change, and how it can provide ecosystem services in relation to the bio-based economy.
Publication Date: 01/03/2012
Source: FAO

FAO Recognises Traditional Agriculture System in Koraput Region

FAO has officially recognized the Traditional Agricultural System of Koraput  as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) site. This was officially declared on 3rd January 2012 at the Indian Science Congress organized by KIIT University in Bhubaneswar. This is an important recognition of our Tribal System of Agriculture and its conservation will only strengthen our fight against serious environmental challenges like climate change.

The official release added “The recognition of the Koraput Traditional Agricultural System as a GIAHS site will guarantee local and international efforts for the conservation of biodiversitysustainable use of its genetic resources, and the recognition of tribal peoples’ contribution to biodiversity and knowledge systems, whilst increasing attention to their natural and cultural heritage.

What is Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Worldwide, specific agricultural systems and landscapes have been created, shaped and maintained by generations of farmers and herders based on diverse natural resources, using locally adapted management practices. Building on local knowledge and experience, these ingenious agri-cultural systems reflect the evolution of humankind, the diversity of its knowledge, and its profound relationship with nature. These systems have resulted not only in outstanding landscapes, maintenance and adaptation of globally significant agricultural biodiversity, indigenous knowledge systems and resilient ecosystems, but, above all, in the sustained provision of multiple goods and services, food and livelihood security and quality of life.

In order to safeguard and support world’s agri-cultural heritage systems in 2002 FAO started an initiative for the conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage systems (GIAHS). The initiative aims to establish the basis for international recognition, dynamic conservation and adaptive management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and their agricultural biodiversity, knowledge systems, food and livelihood security and cultures throughout the world.

(Source: FAO  Official Website: http://www.fao.org/nr/giahs/giahs-home/home-more/en/)


The Official Release of FAO
 on Koraput Region
“The Koraput region in the state of Orissa, India, has a rich assembly of unique floral and faunal diversity. The genetic repository of the region is of great significance in the global context. About 79 plant angiosperm species and one gymnosperm are endemic to the region.
 In addition, people, who belong to different tribal groups, have conserved and preserved a large number of land races of rice, millets, pulses and medicinal plants, using diverse traditional cultivation practices, which have been developed as an answer to the topographical and ecological diversity of the region. Koraput has been identified as an important centre of origin of rice. The changes in the traditional practices coupled with both, natural and anthropogenic pressures require immediate attention for conservation of these unique species and genotypes for perpetuity.”

For More Please visit this link:

http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/giahs/PDF/Koraput_Traditional_Agricultural_System_to_be_designated_as_GIAHS_site.pdf

The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture

Managing systems at risk

By 2050, food production is projected to increase by about 70 percent globally and nearly 100 percent in developing countries. This incremental demand for food, together with demand from other competing uses, will place unprecedented pressure on many agricultural production systems across the world. These ‘systems at risk’ are facing growing competition for land and water resources and they are often constrained by unsustainable agricultural practices. They therefore require particular attention and specific remedial action.

The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW) analyses a variety of options for overcoming constraints and improving resource management in these areas of heightened risk. In each location, a mix of changes in institutional and policy measures will have to be combined with greater access to technologies for better management of land and water resources. Increased investments; access to novel financing mechanisms; and international cooperation and development assistance will also help overcome these constraints.

This first issue of SOLAW, which complements other “State of the world” reports published regularly by FAO, is intended to inform public debate and policy-making at national and international levels.

 

Global Soil Partnership for Food Security launched at FAO

New effort to assure soils future generations

7 September 2011, Rome – FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf warned today that pressure on the world’s soil resources and land degradation are threatening global food security. He called for a renewed international effort to assure sufficient fertile and healthy soils today and for future generations.

Diouf was speaking here at the start of a three-day meeting to launch a new Global Soil Partnership for Food security and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

“Soil is an essential component of the world’s production systems and ecosystems,” Diouf said. “But it is also a fragile and non-renewable resource. It is very easily degraded and it is slow, difficult and expensive to regenerate,” he added.

Increased pressure

Soil resources across the globe are subject to increased pressure from competing land uses and are affected by extensive degradation processes that rapidly deplete the limited amounts of soils and water available for food production, Diouf noted.

According to FAO, in Africa alone 6.3 million hectares of degraded farmland have lost their fertility and water-holding capacity and need to be regenerated to meet the demand for food of a population set to more than double in the next 40 years.

In 1982 FAO adopted a World Soil Charter spelling out the basic principles and guidelines for sustainable soil management and soil protection to be followed by governments and international organizations.

Implementation lacking

“However, there have been long delays in applying the Charter in many countries and regions of the world. New efforts to implement it must be made as soon as possible,” Diouf said.

Besides helping implement the provisions of the World Soil Charter, the Global Soil Partnership is intended to raise awareness and motivate action by decision-makers on the importance of soils for food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The partnership is also aimed at providing favourable policy environment and technical solutions for soil protection and management and at helping mobilize resources and expertise for joint activities and programmes.

The Global Soil Partnership will complement the 15-year-old Global Water Partnership initiated by the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank in 1996 to coordinate the development and management of water, land, and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital environmental systems.

Greater resilience

Short-term interventions to provide food, water and basic needs such as seeds and fertilizer to kick-start agriculture is the usual response to food crises and extreme weather events such as in the Horn of Africa. However, longer-term and large-scale measures are needed in order to build greater resilience to degradation, drought and climate change and reduce human vulnerability to disasters.

The Horn of Africa crisis, with the ongoing famine in Somalia, is the most severe food security emergency in the world today. Besides issues of insecurity and governance, the crisis is caused to a large extent by inadequate soil and water management policies and practices.

The Rome meeting is expected to start work on an Action Plan on sustainable soil management that will develop synergies between partners and bring together work currently being done separately on soil survey, assessment and monitoring, soil productivity, soil carbon, soil biodiversity and ecology and soil and water conservation.

Climate change to reduce water availability, FAO warns

XINHUA

APA woman piles up wheat after harvesting at a farm in village Majra Khurd of Haryana. File photo

Climate change will make water less available to produce food crops in years to come, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report issued Thursday.

River runoff and aquifer recharges will decrease in the Mediterranean, the Americas, Australia and southern Africa, it said.

Areas in Asia which depend on the melting of ice and mountain glaciers will also be affected, while areas with a lot of fluvial deltas are threatened by reduced water flow, increased salinity and rising sea levels, said the report entitled “Climate Change, Water and Food Security”.

The report also predicted an acceleration of the hydrologic cycle of the planet because high temperatures will raise the evaporation rate of the soil and sea.

“The rain will increase in the tropics and at higher altitudes, but it will decrease in areas that already have dry and semi-dry characters and are located inland on the big continents,” the report said.

Because of this, there will be a higher frequency of droughts and flooding, which will lead to an increased use of ground water and limit the water available for agriculture even more.

“The loss of glaciers, which sustain about 40 percent of the watering at world level, will finally affect the amount of available water on the surface for watering in the main producer basins,” it said.

The increase in temperature will prolong the growing season of crops in warmer regions, but reduce the harvest season elsewhere, adding to a higher rate of evaporation and a decrease in agricultural productivity, the report said.

Rural communities and the food security of the urban population are threatened, “but the poor people in rural areas are the most vulnerable, and they could be affected in a disproportionate way,” it said.