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Meeting of the FAO Committee on Agriculture: Successful side-event on organic agriculture

At the 21st meeting of the FAO Committee on Agriculture, held April 22-25, 2009 in Rome, a successful side event on "Organic Agriculture, Climate Change and the Environment" took place.

Cover of the broshure: Low Greenhouse Gas Agriculture: Mitigation and Adaptation Potential of Sustainable Farming Systems

Cover of the broshure: Low Greenhouse Gas Agriculture: Mitigation and Adaptation Potential of Sustainable Farming Systems

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The intent of the side event was to demonstrate to the country delegations the important role that organic agriculture could play in responding to social and environmental challenges that food systems are facing and coping with growing food demands in times of climate change.

The success of the side event was reflected in the final report of the FAO Committee on Agriculture, which mentiones Organic Agriculture as a tool for achieving sustainable agriculture. In addition, individual members of the Committee on Agriculture stressed the need to strengthen interdisciplinary work within FAO on issues such as water, biodiversity, climate and organic agriculture.

The side event was chaired by Soren Skafte, Denmark representative, and welcoming remarks were delivered by Cristina Grandi, IFOAM Liaison Office to FAO, and Alexander Mueller, FAO Assistant Director General. 

Urs Niggli, IFOAM World Board member and the Director of the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, presented the latest scientific evidence on the potential of Organic Agriculture for climate adaptation and mitigation (see below). Niels Halberg, ICROFS Director, showed the multi-dimensional challenges of future food and farming systems. Tewolde Berhan, from the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Agency, described how community-led watershed management has reversed severe degradation in Tigray. Vitoon Panyakul, the Director of GreenNet, Thailand, illustrated that organic agriculture in Asia, practiced on 2.88 million hectares by 234,147 certified producers, mainly in marginal areas, has improved land productivity while reducing cash costs.

Urs Niggli presented the recent joint publication of FAO, Rodale Institute and FiBL Low Greenhouse Gas Agriculture: Mitigation and Adaptation Potential of Sustainable Farming SystemsThe publication concludes  that organic agriculture offers multiple opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and counteract global warming. For example, organic agriculture reduces energy requirements for production systems by 25 to 50 percent compared to conventional chemical-based agriculture. Reducing GHGs through their sequestration in soil has even greater potential to mitigate climate change. Carbon is sequestered through an increase of soil organic matter content. Improving soil sequestration of carbon is desirable in both low- and high-yield crop and animal systems. Many of organic agriculture’s components can be implemented within other sustainable farming systems. The system-oriented and participative concept of organic agriculture, combined with new sustainable technologies (such as no tillage), offer greatly needed solutions in the face of climate change.

Source: IFOAM Insider, May 2009, FAO Organic Agriculture Homepage, ICROFS Homepage

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FAO Committee on Agriculture

Organic farming and climate change

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