WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 29, 2022) – Climate change is already tangibly affecting smallholder farmers in developing countries, and increased U.S. investments in agricultural development and innovation are needed to make global food systems more resilient and to alleviate hunger worldwide, according to a new report commissioned by Farm Journal Foundation.
While climate change is impacting agriculture all around the world, its effects are “substantially more severe” in warm regions including Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, according to the report released today, authored by Dr. Thomas Jayne, professor emeritus of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics at Michigan State University. As much as 80% of the world’s poor people, who predominantly work in agriculture, live in areas increasingly affected by climate change, the report said, citing the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.
The new report follows the United Nations’ COP27 conference earlier this month in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where leaders discussed the impact of climate change on the global food system and solutions to make agriculture more resilient. Today, the world is facing an “unprecedented” global food crisis, according to the World Food Program, due to COVID-19, the Russia-Ukraine war, and a series of devastating weather events driven by climate change, including severe flooding in South Asia and extended droughts in East Africa.
“Unless sufficient resources are devoted to adapting agricultural systems to climate change, billions of people who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods could be hit hard, and global progress made in recent years to reduce poverty and hunger will be reversed,” Dr. Jayne said.
The report put forward a series of recommendations for where increased investments and coordination efforts by the U.S. government could make a substantial difference in enabling smallholder farmers and food systems to adapt to climate change. These recommendations included:
Investing in the improved coordination of agricultural research, development, and extension (R&D&E) programs, especially those that promote climate adaptation and help raise productivity on existing farmland, rather than converting forests and grasslands into new cropland. In particular, more funding for research and capacity development to ensure that the investments in programs such as U.S. Feed the Future Innovation Laboratories and CGIAR, the world’s largest agricultural research consortium, benefit from strong regional and national partners whose participation will be required to effectively adapt and scale out needed technical innovation to smallholder farmers.
Investing in stronger agricultural education systems in developing countries to increase the pipeline of well-trained agricultural scientists and technicians to support farm extension services.
Investing in weather and early warning information services to help predict and rapidly respond to potential shocks.
Coordinating international capital mobilization efforts around climate-resilient food systems, knowledge sharing, and infrastructure, including encouraging public-private partnerships like the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) to stimulate outside investments in agricultural research and development.
Supporting efforts to improve the enabling environment for private sector investments in climate-smart agrifood systems and supporting locally led approaches.
Coordinating holistic, intergovernmental and interagency responses to address complex challenges.
According to the report, investing in agricultural sustainability in developing countries is in the U.S. national interest, as it would prevent future food crises, reduce the need for emergency food aid, support stability in developing countries, and potentially reduce mass migration and civil unrest.
“Our global food system is at a crossroads. Climate change is creating greater and greater risks, especially for smallholder farmers in developing countries, and we are seeing increased levels of global hunger as a result,” said Katie Lee, Vice President of Government Affairs at Farm Journal Foundation. “The U.S., as a global leader in agriculture, has an important role to play in building more resilient food systems. As this report shows, making robust, coordinated, and targeted investments in agricultural research, development, and extension now will pay dividends down the road, creating a more sustainable, stable, and food secure future for everyone.”
Whitney McFerron, Communications Director
Farm Journal Foundation
About Farm Journal Foundation
Farm Journal Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving global food security by sustaining modern agriculture’s leadership role and ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population. The organization works to advance this mission through key issue areas, including global food security, agricultural research and development, nutrition, and conservation agriculture. To learn more, visit www.farmjournalfoundation.org.