Title: Climate science in support of sustainable agriculture
Citation: CLIMATE RESEARCH vol. 47 p. 95-110
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC64288
ISSN: 0936-577X
URI: www.int-res.com
DOI: 10.3354/cr00954
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Agriculture is deeply interconnected with weather and climate, the main driver of agriculture production but also the dominant source of the overall variability of food production. Agriculture constitutes the principal livelihood of 70% of the world¿s poor; many of the world¿s poor and hungry are smallholder farmers, herders, fisherfolk, forest-dwellers, including indigenous people living in climate sensitive vulnerable areas. As the silent hunger crisis has already reached a historic high with 1.02 billion people going hungry every day, raising food production by some 70% to meet needs of the world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 in light of impact of climate change may be one of the biggest challenges of the century. Climate science has offered a depth of knowledge to systematically characterize the agroclimatic resources and develop climate responsive agriculture policies, programmes and practices. However, as the food systems are expanding more and more into marginal and vulnerable areas, a renewed and holistic focus is now indispensable taking into account ecological, economic and social perspectives. National agriculture policies must therefore consider ¿climate as a resource¿ and develop synergies and embrace innovation and ideas of climate science to support land use planning, agro-ecological zoning, identify emerging areas of concern (AoC) and facilitate climate change adaptation and mitigation planning at a time when agriculture has an increased role to play to supply food, fodder, fibre and energy. In order to meet the needs of food system communities, a number of existing gaps in climate based agriculture services related to content, lead-time and communication must be addressed. Nonetheless, the emerging ability to translate timely, skilful climate information to optimize sustainable agriculture practices and communicate to the farmers through cost effective means provide opportunities for managing current ¿climate risks¿ and move towards strategic ¿climate resilient¿ adaptation and mitigation. The approach combining historical climate data, modern climate information products and communication technologies for real-time analysis of impacts; and delivery of optimal management practices at farm level is needed for farm adaptive dynamic optimization (FADO). The action-oriented climate advice should contain seasonal (climate and crop yield forecasts, crop-weather insurance indices), intra-seasonal (information on rainfall, dry and wet spells, hot and cold waves, land slides, floods, pest and diseases, and agronomic management practices) for risk reduction and long term (changing vulnerability and risk profiles, environmental services, biodiversity conservation etc.,) strategies for optimal and sustainable use of land, water and genetic resources. Strong partnership and collaboration among international institutions, national focal agencies, community based organizations and social networks are precondition. All these efforts present key challenges, but offers immense opportunities for both climate science and agriculture services to support sustainable agriculture.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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