Food security and climate ambitions: making agriculture more sustainable

Panel discussion by NGO «Ecoaction» on food security and climate ambitions has gathered experts of various specialities.

Mariya Dyachuk, expert, NGO «Ecoaction, has opened the discussion with naming the basic range of problems brought by russian war against Ukraine:

  • Grain delivery
  • Damaged agricultural facilities and consequences for environment (Chornobayivs’ka poultry factory – 4.5 million hens have perished)
  • 34% agricultural facilities are at risk
  • 70 000 ha burnt in July.

Damage from demolition of agricultural facilities makes up 6.9 billion U.S. dollars, 1.78 of which is the cost of foodstuff stolen by russians.

«This war has started another crisis – food crisis. Global food supply is unsustainable, and now we can change it by creating stable food security system», – claims Mariya Dyachuk.

To defeat food crisis, Dyachuk says, it is necessary to:

  • decentralize grain marine supply system
  • reorientate export-oriented Ukrainian market, and support not large agricultural holdings alone, but minor and middle farmers as well
  • provide minor and middle farmers an opportunity to buy agricultural land
  • include more environmental practices and standards
  • additionally, it is necessary to monitor soil condition and develop a precise plan to define what lands can be used to intended purpose, and what lands should be announced reserved areas

The next speaker – Chantal Clement, CEO, IPES Food, pointed out 4 problems that constitute the ground for food crisis:

  • grain is grown in few countries despite of high demand for it; 26 countries are 50% dependent on imported grains from russia and Ukraine,
  • industrial agricultural practices do not counteract climate change and can’t be helpful in adaptation to it. Since some regions have switched to production of definite foods, their inner food supply has decreased, while dependence on foods delivered has increased
  • uneven gain in prices has proved that we depend on highly centralized, shadow and non-transparent food supply markets (5 large companies control most of grains supplies)
  • the war still goes on, yet we remain in more global contexts of coronavirus, climate change and other potential crises.
  • The problem is not in production of goods, but in their distribution: we already produce enough to feed humanity, but we lack efficient and fair distribution system.

«Agriecological diversity helps us retain independence and stability. Countries must develop plans and help local producers on-site in order to strengthen food security».

Mykola Shlapak, consultant on climate change and environment, LA WGIII IPCC AR6 (Ukraine), has provided information about the influence of Ukrainian agricultural facilities at climate change. Country’s agricultural emissions are very high – 26% (direct and indirect combined). In 2019 we’ve seen the maximum emissions, while currently there is a tendency to decline in emissions from animal breeding, as livestock population decreases.

At the same time, emissions from planting grains grow, because more fertilizers are used (31.8 million tons СО2 in 2020).

The expert sees the solution in agriculture itself, as according to recent IPCC report it can, once properly approached, give 4 billion tons decline in world СО2 emissions. For Ukraine, proper approaches mean

  • introduction of mitigation practices in various agricultural branches
  • focusing on nature oriented solutions that not only contribute to mitigation, but promote adaptation: high air quality, conservation of biodiversity etc
  • protection of land and water resources
  • involving international climate funding, as war strongly affects budget, so country’s ability to finance adaptation and mitigation practices decreases.

Ksenia Brand, member of AbL and farmer from Germany, has provided German context for participants and uttered her personal vision of probable ways to reduce agricultural emissions and stabilize the branch through

  • reduction of livestock population by 50%
  • change of consumers’ habits: we have to consume less goods, but of higher quality (though currently it is hard to stand for more expensive food – because of high inflation rates)
  • livestock population is inequally distributed, it requires more even allocation throughout the country
  • extensive, not intensive, farming
  • programs of support for local farming.

Ochieng Otieno, representative from Pelum Kenya and coalition of 59 organizations, founded 5 years ago to promote agriecology. Before russian full-size war against Ukraine the Kenyan were unaware of their strong dependence on Ukrainian and russian agricultural foodstuff

  • grains prices have increased by 60-80%
  • mineral fertilizers have increased in cost by 100%
  • sunflower oil has gained over 100% in price

The speaker names agriecology the solution, a widespread practice that can hit monopoly of foodstuff, preservation and propagation of local traditional agricultural practices. Also, African countries must abandon food colonialism. “Local market first, then surplus for export», – summaries mr. Otieno.

Our thanks for news piece and pictures from COP27 to Diana Popfalushi, NGO “Plato”

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