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On Our Plate: Ag Productivity Preserves Forests and Food Security
Meeting the world’s increasing demand for food while reducing the climate impact of agriculture will require highly productive landscapes that are managed sustainably.
Forests play key roles in the water cycle, soil conservation, carbon sequestration and habitat protection. They are also a source of food, feed, fiber, fuel and income for millions of people around the world.
In high-income countries, the overall expansion of agricultural production has slowed significantly. Yet agriculture remains the most significant driver of deforestation, globally, and there is an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry.
In most countries, forested areas are on average declining relative to agricultural areas. In high-income countries the trend is reversed, as shown below in Figure 9 from the 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®).
Increasing Productivity to Protect Forests
Productivity in agriculture, combined with strategies to develop sustainable landscapes through improved management and planning, are required to preserve forests, help them retain their carbon storage potential and enable them to provide the food, feed, fiber and fuel needed for a growing world.
The 2016 GAP Report® includes case studies from Brazil and Indonesia that demonstrate how public-private partnerships are improving landscape management practices, as well as improving productivity, livelihoods and food security.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working with farmers, ranchers and food producers in Brazil’s Southeastern Pará State. This region is on the front lines of Amazonian deforestation and is being driven by expanding cattle ranching to meet the growing global demand for beef. TNC provides people with tools, resources and a value proposition to transition to sustainable production. Click here to read the full story.
Pakpak Bharat, Indonesia, has significant areas of natural forest that provide local communities with freshwater as well as fruit, latex and other goods for both commercial and subsistence use. Agriculture is a main source of livelihoods, providing 65 percent of the district’s GDP from crops such as coffee, maize and citrus.
Agriculture is also one of the leading drivers of deforestation as producers of all sizes are expanding into forests in search of fertile land to meet growing demand. In partnership with the district government, Monsanto and Conservation International (CI) are helping local farmers improve the productivity of the land they are already cultivating, so they won’t need to expand into forested areas to grow more. Click here to learn more.
Farmers participating in this program have seen yield increases ranging from 30 to 100 percent. Farmers also saw their expenses reduced by half, supporting an average increase in monthly income of 34 percent.
For more on forestry, food security and sustainable agriculture, explore the articles below.
REPORT: Sustainable forestry for food and nutrition security
Committee on World Food Security, High Level Panel of Experts, June 2017
Study: African Farmers Have A Surprise Economic Weapon — Trees
NPR.org, February 3, 2017