International farmers warn of impact of climate change
Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, farmers attended an Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) event to highlight the harsh realities of climate change and its impact on the industry.
Martin Lines from Cambridgeshire, Ellen Litchfield from South Australia and Tumaini Elibariki from Tanzania each spoke about the day-to-day realities of dealing with adverse weather conditions.
Martin, president of the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) and a field farmer, said there was a need to work with the natural capacity of the landscape to improve resilience.
“Climate change is not happening, it is here now,” he warned, “Within my arable business, I am greatly affected by the change of seasons and by being too dry, too wet with disrupted weather conditions and we only know it’s going to get worse.
“For me, my number one asset as a land manager and farmer is my soil. And if I can improve the quality of the soils, biodiversity and the landscape around me, I can remain profitable and viable in the future.
“To do this, we have moved from cultivation to no-till and cover crops. We also once again welcomed livestock to fertilize and feed the cover crops.
In Australia, Ellen Litchfield cultivates in the rainiest part of the country, on a sheep and cattle station that covers 600,000 hectares.
“For us, dealing with climatic extremes has been a constant problem – but it is getting worse,” she warned.
“The drought of 2019 saw parts of the country experience the driest and hottest year on record. Precipitation has decreased by 40% and the average temperature has increased by 1.5 degrees.
Despite the droughts and the associated economic impact, Ellen said productivity has increased dramatically in the livestock and crop sectors.
This, she said, because farmers on the front lines of climate change could increase their resilience by investing in natural capital, climate-adaptive breeds, solar energy, and sharing their history to maintain social license. .
“One thing that I think is important is to share our story and to recognize that as farmers we are going to have to speak up and tell the world what we are really doing and how we are mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Tumaini Elibariki has been working for Farm Africa since 2012 and has managed a number of their projects in northern Tanzania.
He helps farmers identify the problems they face, solutions and training, using his experience in agricultural technology. He is also a program manager for the Tournesol project, which grows drought tolerant varieties.
“In Tanzania, we face a challenge where most of the farmers depend on small-scale agriculture in rural areas, but around 35% of the population does not have enough nutritious food to eat,” a- he declared.
“Another challenge is deforestation, with part of the population turning to the sale of wood products such as firewood and charcoal to earn money, leading to soil erosion. “
In northern and central Tanzania, he said climate change is making weather conditions increasingly unpredictable, limiting the ability of smallholders to plan for the future.
“Farmers have planted cover crops such as lablab beans to help improve moisture retention and in flooding, soil erosion is limited due to crop protection. “
The session, which was chaired by OFC Director Liz Bowles, was the second in a series of webinars held ahead of the physical event’s return in January 2022.