Thursday, October 03, 2013

UN says farmers must be paid for enviro-services

"Governments must find ways to factor in and reward farmers for currently unpaid public goods they provide – such as clean water, soil and landscape preservation, protection of biodiversity, and recreation," says the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

In its latest report UNCTAD Trade and Environment Report 2013 it recommends a rapid and significant shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food that depends heavily on external inputs such as fertilizer, agro-chemicals, and concentrate feed. Instead, it says that the goal should be “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development”. 
Monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, the report says, while the environmental damage caused by this approach is mounting and is unsustainable. Global fertiliser use increased eight times in the past 40 years. Global cereal production has only doubled in the same period. Growth rates in agricultural productivity recently fell from 2% to below 1% annually. Food prices from 2011 to mid-2013 were almost 80% higher than for the period 2003–2008. The report says that a shift is necessary towards diverse production patterns that reflect the “multi-functionality” of agriculture and enhance closed nutrient cycles. Moreover, as the environmental costs of industrial agriculture are not accounted for, governments should act to ensure that more food is grown where it is needed. It recommends adjusting trade rules to encourage “as much regionalized/localized food production as possible; as much traded food as necessary.”  

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