PAFPNet Discussion Query Consolidated Responses (27 March 2018)
The “Climate Change Adaptation and the Role of Agriculture” discussion query ran from 27/3-13/4/18 to assist in collating Pacific viewpoints for contribution to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) Forty-eighth session Bonn, Germany, 30 April to 10 May 2018 in relation to Item 8: “Koronivia joint work on agriculture”. This will guide work to address vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security of the Pacific Climate Smart Agriculture alliance.
There were 12 submissions or detailed comments which came from PAFPNet members in Fiji, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Thailand, New Zealand and Australia.
Respondents made suggestions for continued development and re-training of extension officers and progressive approaches in agricultural research and training institutions. There was a recognition of the benefits of model farms where farmers could go to see new land-use approaches in action, and a call for incentives for farmers practising conservation farming approaches that build soil carbon, soil water storage and maintain nutrients. Farmers need long-term access to land through kastom or leasing arrangements, so that they have the motivation to increase soil fertility.
B. Assessing adaptation and resilience
A call was made for better modelling and decision support tools to improve crop modelling and long term sustainability. These tools need to be able to model integrated livestock-forestry-cropping systems. ‘Livestock’ should include aquaculture systems as well as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry.
Improvements in adaptation need to consider the success of changes in adverse conditions, such as drought, not just improvements in better seasons.
There was also recognition that measurement is scale-dependent, from field and farm up to river catchments and whole islands.
C. Improved soil health and soil fertility
The most significant risks to good soil management were farmers not having long-term motivation to maintain soils, and loss of knowledge and incentives to operate more complex, traditional integrated systems of agroforestry, with or without livestock.
One suggestion also included re-considering terracing as a soil conservation option, where farmers were moving onto steep land, but this could also include more contour farming even on flatter land.
D. Improved nutrient management
Suggestions were made for giving government incentives to farmers who were increasing the biological activity of their soils, who were farming with nitrogen-fixing systems and cover crops, and increased use of integrated tree-cropping systems to assist in soil stabilisation and circulation of nutrients from deeper in the soil profile.
E. Improved livestock systems
Suggestions included continuing basic work to improve herd health and breeding, increased use of leguminous crops (including trees) and improving the use of rotational grazing to increase plant recovery times. Healthy livestock populations may need cooler conditions, such as thatched-roof shedding and lower stocking numbers. Feedstocks to maintain animals in a healthy condition all year round requires further work on local and imported options.
Integrated agroforestry-livestock systems can contribute to nutrient cycling and the management of weeds too.
F. Increasing agricultural resilience
A major theme here was the importance of continuing national and local plant and animal breeding efforts. Particularly for some Pacific staple crops there was a recognition of the narrow genetic diversity and the importance of constantly renewing that through systems of sharing materials.
A second theme was the importance of continuing to research and support integrated agricultural systems which provide the resilience of trees, crops and livestock.
Landscape-scale issues raised included: 1) the need for avoiding making land more fire-prone (and the increasing risk of this with longer dry seasons), 2) the importance of trees in the landscape for clean water and soil stabilisation and 3) the use of terracing as a mechanism to stabilise agricultural land.
More detail of individual responses can be found in the Consolidated Responses.