North American farm leaders, along with public and private sector and industry value chain partners, are collaborating in developing ways to improve the resilience of production systems, and adapt to and mitigate present and future risks from changing climatic conditions, the Global Climate Smart Agriculture Summit in Abu Dhabi was told this week.
A.G. Kawamura, who co-chairs Solutions from the Land (SfL), an initiative in which stakeholders explore the development of integrated sustainable solutions to the challenges of climate change, food security, economic development and biodiversity conservation, told a plenary session of the summit that while farmers, ranchers and foresters across North America may not all agree on the causes of changing climatic conditions, they do recognize it is happening now, impacting the way they grow food, feed and fiber, and imposing multiple threats to the continued economic viability of North American agriculture.
"Unpredictable weather leads to unpredictable harvests," said Kawamura, a specialty crops and produce grower and shipper, and a former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture.
Kawamura told the summit that in response to these threats, SfL has drawn together more than 30 organizations to date to form the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA), a platform for sharing knowledge and applying climate science to agriculture.
"Our mission is to generate dialogue and greater understanding within the agriculture and forestry sectors of the impacts of climate change and the steps they can take to meet the challenges that it poses," Kawamura told summit participants.
"The North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance and the Global Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance will work together closely to provide a vehicle for farmer-to-farmer exchanges," he said. "What we see in other parts of the world and other farmers see in North America is important because farmers adopt sound practices and systems that they see firsthand."
NACSAA organizers are only at the beginning of what will be a much broader, longer-lasting effort, noting that by the end of the year, the alliance will grow to include 100 member organizations - 65 in the United States, 25 in Canada and 10 in Mexico. Organizers also plan to train and equip 50 farmer leaders to be climate-smart agriculture discussion leaders.
The alliance will recruit a cadre of academic and technical experts who can advise and support NACSAA members in designing and establishing climate-smart agriculture programs, with the aim of obtaining commitments from at least 10 member organizations to develop customized climate-smart agriculture resources and support programs for their members.
The alliance will produce an updated set of recommendations for production and conservation systems, research priorities, risk management and infrastructure to be directed at growers, agribusinesses, universities, government agencies and policy makers. And it will announce country goals for the percentage of producers that will be adopting climate-smart agriculture practices.
A North American Climate Smart Agriculture Summit will be held later this year to obtain and disseminate information and mobilize farmer leaders and their partners to provide catalytic leadership in advancing climate-smart agriculture principles, policies and practices.
In addition to actively participating in and shaping the priorities, programs and projects of the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, the North American alliance will establish information exchange programs with the other regional alliances that are members of the Global alliance.
The NACSAA organizational plan can be accessed HERE.
The current list of NACSAA partners can be accessed HERE.