Opinion

Climate-Smart Agriculture, the way forward

The following is an address by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay during the opening of the 2017 Central Division Agriculture Show in Nausori yesterday. I am honoured this
22 Jun 2017 11:44
Climate-Smart Agriculture, the way forward

The following is an address by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay during the opening of the 2017 Central Division Agriculture Show in Nausori yesterday.


I am honoured this morning by the invitation to officiate at the opening of the 2017 Central Division Agriculture Show.

As a public event exhibiting the best of livestock, crops, agricultural equipment and technologies, the Agriculture Show recognises the sector’s contribution to the social and economic development of our beloved nation.

It is a day to celebrate the achievements of a sector that is important to the existence of every individual.

Without agriculture, we would not have been able to set up towns, cities and civilisation in general.

I have been told that the Central Show involves farmers from the three provinces of Rewa, Tailevu and Naitasiri who will be showcasing their crops and livestock produce to the public.  I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and personal welcome to all farmers this morning to the show.

Since 2006, the agricultural shows have provided locals with an opportunity to celebrate achievements and enjoy a break from the day-to-day routine in the farm.

With the combination of serious competition and light entertainment, agriculture shows seeks to acknowledge and reward the hard work and skills of primary producers and provide a venue for rural farming families to socialise.

This year Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme for the Agriculture Show is, “Climate- Smart Agriculture for Fiji”.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.

Interestingly, agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) activities also generate or contribute to greenhouse gas.

FAO has stated that these activities can contribute around 21 per cent of such emissions globally.

Therefore, it is appropriate that agriculture limit its impact on climate by ensuring that agricultural practices are climate-smart.

The most commonly used definition is provided by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which defines CSA as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience through adaptation, reduces/removes Green House Gases through mitigation where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”.

To achieve the above, Climate Smart Agriculture explicitly aims to address three objectives:

  •  Productivity by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;
  •  Resilience and Adaptation by adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and
  •  Mitigation or Reducing Green House Gases (GHG) by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Critical thinking

I believe that with the leadership that Fiji is demonstrating on recognising the impact of climate on Small Island States, as well as the rest of the world, that it is appropriate to recognise the impact of climate on agriculture.

Climate-Smart Agriculture is critical to help improve food security for the poor and marginalised while helping to reduce food wastage globally.

Despite the attention paid to agricultural development and food security over the past decades, there are still about 800 million undernourished and one billion malnourished people in the world.

At the same time, more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight and one third of all food produced is wasted.

Before 2050, the global population is expected to swell to more than 9.7 billion people (United Nations 2015).

At the same time, global food consumption trends are changing drastically, for example, increasing affluence is driving demand for meat-rich diets.

If the current trends in consumption patterns and food waste continue, it is estimated we will require 60 per cent more food by 2050.

The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

Target

In 2015, COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, was, for the first time after 20 years of UN negotiations, ratified.

The target was for countries to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement of keeping global warming below 2 degrees centigrade.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to highlight this morning that Fiji as an active member of this summit became the first country in the world to formally endorse the UN Climate Agreement.

We agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement, by prioritising it, despite the fact that we are vulnerable to flooding, fierce tropical storms, depleting fish stocks, etc,. as a result of the world’s changing climate.

Climate change is real and the world, including small island states, is experiencing its impacts.

Under the national climate action plan, Fiji pledged to generate 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.  It also promised to cut overall emissions from its energy sector by 30 per cent.  By adopting climate smart agriculture, we will be further contributing to achieving these targets.

Ladies and Gentleman the Central division is endowed with favourable natural environment and a range of soil types that can produce a wide range of crops and livestock suitable for agriculture development.  Therefore it is up to us to sustainably develop these limited resources now and for our future generation through practicing climate smart agriculture.

Focus

Government through Ministry of Agriculture is focused on developing sustainable farming system/approach to minimise or mitigate climate change through the following:

(1) Promotion of integrated farming system,

(2) Strengthening of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) initiative

(3) Investment in Research and Development for drought resilient commodities, and

(4) Proper management of farming systems.

Increasing demand for arable land from other economic activities is beginning to push agriculture to sloping and marginal land.  When farming is done on such terrain, there is a risk of land degradation, which can be compounded by extreme weather patterns.  On strengthening sustainable land management practices, the Ministry of Agriculture acts as the national focal point for the UNConvention to Combat Desertification / Land Degradation.  In observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification / Land Degradation (which fell on June 17), the Ministry of Agriculture commenced celebrations this year in the village of Nayarabale in the province of Cakaudrove, Vanua Levu on June  16, 2017.

As part of the celebration, 1000 pineapple trees, 100 sandalwood trees, as well as 100 indigenous trees of Fiji like yasi were planted on gradually sloping land to avoid soil erosion and encourage agro-forestry.  Similar activities were also carried out in other Divisions as part of this celebration.

Important player

Let me state that agriculture will remain a big and important player in Government’s efforts to lift economic activity in the Central Division, ensuring that wealth is fairly shared and employment opportunities made available to a wide cross section of communities.  Furthermore, Government is committed in its’ efforts to develop the Central division and through the Ministry of Agriculture will help farmers develop and enhance sustainable farming systems that provide reliable sources of food and income security for all.

Over the next couple of days, we will also acknowledge the contribution of farmers in the division.  This has become an integral part of the show and most farmers look forward to this event.  Awards will be presented to farmers in various categories, which we hope will be an inspiration for other farmers, as well as new farmers.

At the same time, we encourage participation of more youth and women in agriculture.  Although we are seeing an emergence of young and women farmers, we would like this to be a bigger feature of the agriculture sector in future.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me end by thanking the Agriculture Show Committee for their tireless effort in putting together this event which I am sure, will be enjoyed by stakeholders and members of the public alike.

Let me also thank all the co-sponsors and the private sector for their generosity and support to the Government and the Ministry of Agriculture to enable the holding this event.

With these words I have much pleasure in declaring the 2017 Central Division Agriculture Show open and wish every success in the next few days program. Thank you, dhaniyavaad and vinaka vakalevu.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Tower Insurance
FNPF
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper