Food, Farming and Climate Change:
Small Farmers and Agroecology
Industrial agriculture is a key driver in the generation of greenhouse gases (GHG), accounting for up to 50% of total emissions. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, heavy machinery, monocultures, land change, deforestation, refrigeration, waste and transportation all contribute to a food system generate significant emissions which contribute to global climate change.
- Agricultural activities are responsible for 11 to 15%
- Land clearing and deforestation cause and additional 15 to 18%
- Food processing, packing and transportation cause 15 to 20%
- Decomposition of organic waste: 3 to 4%
Industrial agriculture practices, like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), large scale monocultures, overuse and abuse of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, fossil fuel intensive transportation, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) among others, all generate significant amounts of GHGs, not to mention underpin an inequitable and unhealthy food system.
According to the Rodale Institute, small farmers and pastoralists could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO 2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices. In fact, recent studies by the GRAIN demonstrate small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. While small farmers are by and large more productive than big farms, we are fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger
Small farmers and pastoralists are endangered vulnerable to unfair trade agreements, collapsing financial markets, the global push agriculture fuels, land grabs, the expansion of speculation of the food market, the privatization of genetic resources, among other threats. Current prevailing policies and practices in trade, land use, energy use, and patent law favor large-scale agribusinesses that contribute to climate change while making it more difficult for small-scale sustainable farmers to stay on the land where they are able to produce food for the world and mitigate climate change. Without safeguards and support, we risk both the global food supply and combating the climate crisis.
- Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change
- Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate
- La Via Campesina position paper: Small Scale Sustainable Farmers Are Cooling Down The Earth