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Posted: Monday 14 November, 2022 at 8:32 AM

World Food Prize Foundation panel at COP27 underscores vital importance of  farmers having a living income to protect natural resources

By: (IICA), Press Release

    Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. 12 November 2022 (IICA) - Agriculture and farmers are vital to ensure that everyone has food on the table at a time of multifaceted crises that are undermining world peace and stability. So concluded a panel of experts in a discussion organized by the World Food Prize Foundation within the framework of COP27, which is being held in Egypt.


    All the members of the panel, entitled “Bringing food to the table during the crisis,” were highly respected experts. They discussed the role of science in the transformation of agri-food systems, and identified research priorities for guaranteeing production and ensuring its sustainability.


    The World Food Prize Foundation placed the issue of food production in times of crisis squarely at the center of the agenda of the event. The panel members included Cynthia Rosenzweig, 2022 World Food Prize laureate, and Manuel Otero, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).


    Other speakers were Purvi Mehta, an academic with many years of experience in agricultural development in Asia; Greg Sixt, a specialist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); James Hall, Professor of Climate and Environmental Risk at Oxford University; and Muhammad Ibrahim, Director General of the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).


    The central role of science
    Rosenzweig, who participated by teleconference, explained how science can help transform agri-food systems.


    She pointed out that public policymakers, the private sector and researchers are increasingly interested in promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation, while at the same time improving food production and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


    A climatologist who has spent much of her career investigating how food production can better adapt to the impacts of climate change, Rosenzweig was presented with this year’s prestigious World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.


    During the discussion, the speakers emphasized the importance of guaranteeing farmers in rural areas a decent quality of life. The panel moderator, Barbara Stinson, who is also President of the World Food Prize Foundation, suggested that food producers’ income should be regarded as the most valuable tool for climate change adaptation.


    Wellbeing in rural areas
    “Having food on the table means having farmers in rural areas. And for the food to be healthy, there must be health, wellbeing and prosperity in the countryside,” pointed out Manuel Otero.


    While acknowledging that consumers are the ones who determine the trends in food production and marketing, the IICA Director General urged countries not to underestimate the crucial role played by farmers, as evidenced during the most difficult moments of the COVID-19 pandemic.


    On the question of income, he said that a waiter in New York earns 20 times more than a farmer in Central America. “That is neither fair nor right. If we don't correct it, the vicious circle will continue. Sooner or later, farmers who don’t have a living income will destroy the land and then migrate to the city,” he remarked.


    “We have to build a virtuous circle, based on higher incomes for small producers, and the incorporation of technologies, and wellbeing in rural areas. The quality of life in the cities depends on the quality of life and prosperity in the countryside,” he concluded.


    Scientist Purvi Mehta agreed that the biggest challenge facing agriculture was to guarantee farmers’ incomes, highlighting the fact that the diversification of production offered huge opportunities, since just 11 commodities account for nearly 70% of agricultural financing today.


    Agricultural production across the globe is now being affected by the impacts of climate change, but it also generates greenhouse gases. All these issues have been addressed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and  its member countries and international partners at COP27, where they installed a pavilion named the House of Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas. The pavilion was designed to showcase the resilience achieved in agricultural production across the continent in the face of climate change, and the progress being made in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.






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