Agriculture, land use emissions should be included in Copenhagen agreement: IFAD official

08:35, December 14, 2009      

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Ways to deal with carbon emissions from agriculture and land use should be included in the agreement expected to be reached at the end of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, an agriculture expert said Friday.

It is easy to ignore carbon emissions from agriculture and land use because it is considered difficult to measure and monitor them, Rodney Cooke of the International Fund for Agricultural Development told Xinhua in an interview.

Agriculture, apart from being sensitive to climate change, plays an important role in mitigating greenhouse gases, while lots of greenhouse gases derive from land use, experts say.

It is widely believed agriculture is the most sensitive sector to climate change, especially in arid or semi-arid areas in some countries like China.

Cooke said many of the arid and semi-arid areas would become drier if no efforts were taken to adapt them to climate change.

It is forecast that the world's population would be 9.1 billion by 2050. That means food production in developing countries must be doubled by that time. Agriculture is considered a principal driver for poverty-reduction in developing countries, as about 1 billion people still suffer from hunger.

"The big challenge," Cooke said, "is to reduce poverty while adapting to climate change."

He said the Chinese government has done well in helping farmers mitigate the negative effects of climate change by developing China's rural economy and establishing projects together with international organizations.

"Our projects in China together with the Chinese government aim to create a more resilient farming system and help poor people adapt to climate change," he said.

The IFAD has six poverty-reduction projects in rural China. Each project involves a loan of about 30-40 million U.S. dollars from the IFAD, and has a total investment of about 100 million U.S. dollars, with much of the remainder coming from the Chinese government.

Cooke, who spends a lot of time each year visiting the projects in China, is confident of funding for future projects in the country.

That is because the Chinese government has given priority to promoting rural development and has granted great support for such projects, he said.

"The emphasis of our work in China is to look at more resilient farming systems by using crops or varieties of crops that are more resistant to low rainfall," Cooke said.

IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established in 1977, with the aim of financing agricultural development projects primarily for food production in developing countries. China became an IFAD member in 1980.

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