Areas for action

How agriculture can become more resilient to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

'Climate-Smart' Agriculture: Policies, Practices and Financing for Food Security, Adaptation, and Mitigation describes a number of techniques, practices, and projects that are already being used by farmers and food producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and reduce vulnerability.

Better soil and nutrient management
Using practices that increase the use or reuse of organic nutrients are fundamental. They reduce the need for inorganic fertilizers which due to cost and access are often unavailable to small farmers. And the production and transport of inorganic fertilizers contribute to GHG emissions.

Improving water use
Improved water harvesting and retention and improving water use efficiency in irrigation systems are crucial to increasing production and dealing with irregularity in rainfall patterns. Irrigation is practiced on 20 percent of agriculture land in developing countries, but can generate 130 percent higher yields than rain-fed farming.

Strengthening pest and disease control
Climate change is altering the distribution, incidence, and intensity of animal and plant pests and diseases as well as invasive species. The recent emergence in several areas of aggressive strains of wheat yellow rust adapted to high temperatures is a good indication of the risks associated with pathogen adaptation to climate change.

Promoting healthy ecosystems
Good ecosystem management will build more robust and resilient food production systems. Ecosystem services that benefit agriculture include: control of pests and disease, decomposition of wastes, regulation of nutrient cycles, soil and water retention, and crop pollination.

Good management of genetic resources
The preservation of genetic resources of crops and animal breeds and their wild relatives is fundamental in developing resilience to shocks, improving efficiency of resource use, shortening production cycles, generating higher yields, and improving nutritional content per area of land. Generating varieties and breeds which are tailored to ecosystems and the needs of farmers is essential.

Reducing methane generation in rice farming
Relatively simply changes in rice farming techniques can reduce its emissions of methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.

Livestock production and efficiency
Improvements in feeding and nutrition, genetics and reproduction, and grazing patterns and land use can both increase livestock production and reduce the sector's output of GHGs. Arresting the degradation of grasslands through improve grazing management can both benefit livestock production and sequester significant amounts of carbon.

Improving supply chains
As supply chains become longer and more complex, increasing the operational efficiency of processing, packaging, storage, and transport to ensure increased shelf life and reduce carbon footprints is necessary.