Irish farming needs to get smart
'Climate-smart' farming will boost incomes while safeguarding food supply in the face of climate change
Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30
Global agriculture is at a crossroads. The climate is changing, impacting food production, farming practices, and the environment.
A growing global population needs to be fed, yet food production itself is a major contributor to a changing climate. How we deal with these challenges is the starting point for climate-smart agriculture - the latest thinking on how farmers and policy-makers can boost farm productivity in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.
Climate-smart agriculture is about boosting farmers' income while strengthening their resilience to climate change, and reducing agriculture's climate footprint by curbing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon storage.
It relies on farmers' own ingenuity to meet the consequences of climate change, like floods and temperature rises, by adapting their farming practices. But, on a broader level, climate-smart agriculture depends on policy decisions that meet global challenges like fighting world hunger and increasing food production. It is the big idea whose time has come.
To help us better understand attitudes to climate-smart agriculture, the Institute of International and European Affairs and the RDS, supported by Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, Diageo, and several other public and private sector partners, conducted a survey of stakeholders in Ireland and internationally. The survey respondents ranged from farmers to policy-makers, non-government organisations (NGOs) to agri-business.
No one agrees what country is the global leader on climate-smart agriculture, according to the survey. That means there is an opportunity for Ireland to position itself as a leader in climate-smart agriculture, and in the production of carbon-efficient food.
Agri-food in Ireland is a sector on the move. The dairy industry is evolving towards new and innovative food products, with higher value added.
We are connecting local communities across the country to vast and diverse food markets around the globe. The Government's latest strategy for the sector, Food Wise 2025, aims to increase the value of our agri-food exports by 85pc to €19bn over the next decade.