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Plea to put agricultural research at centre of climate change agenda

The United Nations should make agricultural research a strategic priority in combatting climate change, according to three food security and research organisations.

The report was issued by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA); CGIAR Research Programs on Dryland Systems and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security; and the Qatar National Food Security Program.

During the current UN climate conference in Doha, the three organisations issued a report which said that improvements in agricultural research and practices are the primary protection from climate-related problems in the world’s dry areas.

The report, released on 30 November, said shifting climate patterns have a severe effect on people in the world’s dry areas and rural communities. Dry areas cover over 40 per cent per cent of the world’s land surface and are home to one-third of the global population, it said.

According to the CGIAR agricultural research consortium, agriculture contributes up to 86 per cent of food systems emissions and up to 24 per cent of total global emissions.

The report, ‘Strategies for Combating Climate Change in Drylands Agriculture’, says that investments in innovative technologies and practices can reduce the vulnerability of farming communities to drought and other effects of climate change.

Agricultural research has the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation as well as increasing food security by finding more efficient water and natural resource management solution as well as developing more resilient and diverse crop varieties, the report says.

These interventions would improve agricultural productivity, reduce environmental degradation, secure more stable incomes for millions of people and help them adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.