Thursday, December 2, 2010

Agriculture, Climate Change, and Partners of the Americas

FTF Volunteer Otto Wiegand with cattle farmers
Agriculture contributes an estimated 20-30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly attributed to the release of nitrous oxide and methane from fertilizer use, as well as carbon dioxide emissions from land clearing. This recent article by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development announces a new fund to address climate change and food security, but also provides a good overview of the complex issue of agricultural production's contribution to climate change, as well as the ways in which future food production could be jeopardized by its effects.

Since 1991, Partners' Farmer to Farmer volunteers have already trained and assisted thousands of farmers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices. Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) present a cost-effective opportunity for farmers to use natural resources more efficiently and thus, maintain yields in the long-term when faced with environmental instability. Examples of BMPs are soil and water conservation, reduced application of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and integrated pest management, among others.

Drainage ditch overcome with aquatic plants
Even more, Partners is now in the start-up phase of a new Climate Change Fellows Program, a professional exchange program between the US and Colombia to foster relationships between professionals and community organizations in dealing with climate change issues. Please follow the link above to learn more and find out how you, your colleagues, or your US or Colombian organization may be eligible for a Fellowship or to host a Colombian or US Fellow!

Over the next year the Farmer to Farmer Program will also be supporting climate change adaptation in Colombia, related to both agriculture and environment, through our "flexible assignments". Follow this link to learn more about how FTF's flex assignments can support the travel of US agriculturalists and environmentalists, and how organizations or farms in Colombia can receive the visits of these individuals as volunteers to work together on issues and practices related to climate change mitigation.

For example, a Colombian microcredit organization could request a specialist in crop insurance to conduct trainings, or a farmers association may request an agricultural engineer to help prevent flooding of member farmers' fields. Or an entomologist/pathologist team from the US could travel to Colombia to conduct field visits and workshops related to pest and disease risks associated with climbing temperatures. For more information, contact Meghan at molivier@partners.net or Jessie at jkalsmith@partners.net.

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