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Thinking ‘beyond the farm’—On Germany’s longstanding commitment to agricultural research for development

Watch and listen to Stefan Schmitz, head of Food, Agriculture & Rural Development at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as he delivers a short (6-minute) filmed presentation at one of several linked collaborative events led by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and held on the sidelines of the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 7 Nov 2017 in Bonn, Germany.

This series of events was titled ‘Agriculture Advantage: The Case for Climate Action in Agriculture’.

You can watch Schmitz’s presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&v=u_s_ltfQ54w

or just click the arrow above.

A transcript of Schmitz’s remarks follows.

‘Agriculture is finally on the agenda of climate change negotiations. But not yet at its very core. But at least I see from COP to COP we have made landmark achievements and crucial commitments. But we are still struggling to bring them to life and speed up their implementation.

‘Many joint efforts are ongoing to adapt our agri-food systems to climate change and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions, but these are still lagging compared to other sectors.

‘Germany aims therefore to mainstream adaptation and mitigation measures within development cooperation and to strengthen the discourse on agriculture and climate change.

‘Research continuously is putting the spotlight on the agricultural sector within climate change discourse.

‘The importance of research goes far beyond, far beyond, creating more and better knowledge. To operationalize and implement [strategies], the NDC’s [nationally determined contributions] data on actual greenhouse gas emissions, with results specific to each country and sector, are indispensable but are still limited, especially for the African continent.

‘That is why research done, for instance, at ILRI‘s [the International Livestock Research Institute’s] Mazingira Centre, in Nairobi, focusing on understanding and managing the environmental footprint of African livestock systems without hampering productivity, is so relevant and timely.

That is just one example. More needs to be done.

‘All our efforts are in vain if we do not have new solutions to the ground-breaking and freely available public goods produced by agricultural research. This includes new technologies, management practices and high-performance varieties adapted to extreme weather conditions, pests and diseases. From the drought-tolerant bean varieties developed at CIAT [the International Center for Tropical Agriculture] to IRRI‘s [the International Rice Research Institute] solar-based drying technologies and the water-efficient irrigation systems of IWMI [the International Water Management Institute].

‘Germany is a firm and long-standing supporter of international agricultural research for development since its very beginning. This includes the support of international gene banks that safeguard agro-biodiversity.

‘But we need to do more and to deliver tangible and widespread impacts on the ground for the many.

Therefore, we call for more, not less, commitment to the publicly funded international agricultural research system.

‘At the same time, research and implementation partners need to foster and forge more and closer partnerships. Only in this way can we ensure that research products continue to make their way to large numbers of farmers in developing countries.

With the One World-No Hunger initiative of BMZ, launched in 2014, BMZ has invested 1.5  billion euros per year in food, agriculture and rural development.

The CGIAR centres together with the World Vegetable Center and ICIPE work hand in hand with many of our newly created green innovation centres for the agriculture and food sector set up by the One World-No Hunger initiative.

‘Against the backdrop of climate change, still much more needs to be done.

In this light, we highly appreciate CCAFS‘ efforts and dedication to unite us here today in a joint effort promoting investments for climate action in agriculture.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, we urgently need an inclusive climate-smart development of smallholder agriculture in developing countries.

‘Thank you very much.’

Schmitz made the following further remark during the follow-up Q&A session.

We must start to think beyond just ‘farm’. We must think of the whole agriculture and food sector and economy beyond. If we take that into account and support policymaking in telling that story again and again, I think then you have development that opens for private investment.—Stefan Schmitz

Read more
Experts say there is no time to lose in taking climate action to rapidly transform agriculture, CCAFS news, 22 Nov 2017.
Excerpts:
‘Innovations to transform agriculture in the face of climate change are ready and waiting to be deployed now that UN negotiators have finally committed to discussing them.

‘After six years of talks, negotiators agreed to request SBSTA and SBI, the two divisions of the UN’s climate framework (UNFCCC), to jointly review issues associated with agriculture.

‘The decision was welcomed as recognition of the opportunity offered by the sector, which contributes around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions but currently receives as little as 2.5 per cent of public climate funding.’ . . .

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