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FAO on climate change: The scenario is no longer an exceptional situation, neither for Peru nor for the world

FAO on climate change: The scenario is no longer an exceptional situation, neither for Peru nor for the world

Climate change is taking its toll on us and has an intense impact on the country and it is the farmers, especially those who develop family farming, who are the most affected and with this, all Peruvians are also impacted. It is important to note that our response to climate change today will determine how future generations are fed. Mariana, what is the current climate change scenario and the effects on agriculture and food security?

— The current scenario is very dramatic, it is a scenario of tremendous hydrometeorological variability. For example, if one thinks about what happened last year with the severe drought in the mountains, especially in the south of the country, and then comes this severe cycle of water, with a warming of the sea temperature and now the entrance of the coastal Child. The problem is that this is no longer an exceptional situation, neither for Peru nor for the world. The world is going to be increasingly exposed to this type of extreme variations, in climate, in water, in drought, and it is to be expected that for Peru it will come with greater intensity and very surely much more frequently than we were used to. for this to happen, these cycles and against cycles of drought, rain, heat, cold, etc.

What are the figures that the FAO handles regarding crops and the amount of damage in the north of the country, obviously with information from the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation?

—We have been monitoring the situation based on official figures. It should be noted that damage assessment in rural areas is more complex than in cities. Today we are more certain of what happened in the cities, we have not monitored the level of affectation, but obviously in rural areas it is more complex. Monitoring is between 45% and 50%, but what the figures show us is quite worrying. In agriculture, it is estimated that of a total of 70,000 hectares that could be compromised, there are 48,800 hectares affected by crops and a little more than 25,000 hectares lost.

How many people, affected farmers, are we talking about?

—It is difficult to establish, we have to better understand the relationship as property, lost farms, this is a global estimate. There are cultivated areas that are of large agriculture, medium agriculture and small. So, it is necessary to better understand the level of affectation at the micro level. Livestock is also suffering a huge impact on the livelihoods of small producers. An affectation of around 300,000 head of cattle affected by the rain and 42,000 losses and other damages that are related to fishing and aquaculture are estimated. Very fast migrations of different species are generated because they are not used to heat in the sea and of course aquaculture is affected because the quality of the water is affected and food for the fry is lost.

The rains caused damage, as we have seen in the north of the country, to companies, to families, but the most affected are the farmers who carry out this type of family farming. They bring food to the table. In this context, what is family farming and why is this activity important?

—Family farming is done by the producer who has a small plot and where with great difficulty he produces not only for his subsistence but seeks to generate a surplus for his livelihood. Family farming is so named because of its scale. The physiognomy of family farming is what always generates enormous concern and there is a call for governments worldwide to support family farming. In Peru it is estimated that there are just over 2 million family farmers and 57% of what is consumed in Peru, of what arrives every day at our tables, comes from family farming. In 2050 it is estimated that the world will have to feed 10 billion people and it is estimated that by 2050 there may be around 40 million people in Peru, that is, more food must be produced.

The Peruvian State is betting on large-scale agriculture, which is exported. How does this bet affect family farming?

—All forms of agriculture are valid and important. Agricultural exports in the country have been successful, it is important, it is a generator of employment, of value, without a doubt. But of course, the imbalance between large agriculture and small agriculture is enormous in Peru. The vast majority of family farmers live in extreme poverty, they are people who do not have access to land, people who do not have access to natural resources, the issue of water is increasingly critical, they do not have access to technical assistance, they do not have access to financing, etcetera. So they produce in very precarious conditions when they are vital for our daily food security.

One of the problems that persists in the country is land tenure. In Peru it is in a few people and in a few companies that have possession of large territories, somehow cornering family farming for access to land. What are the recommendations of the FAO regarding land tenure?

—Land tenure is a complex issue because small property is increasingly fragmented; that is, today an average family farm producer has a plot between just under one hectare, two hectares, and so on. Land is not an infinite resource, land is a finite resource. Generational changes suffer more and more because there is less and less land. In other words, a person who has one hectare has to leave it to three or four children and obviously there are people looking for land in other places, for example, in the jungle and due to scarcity of water in the mountains and there are strong migratory currents. towards the jungle, and that generates a change in the use of the jungle soil, with deforestation with the consequences that we already know. I believe that, in this state of affairs, the recommendations of the FAO go in the sense that the structure must be changed, expropriated, etc., but it is to guarantee a series of conditions so that in the areas where there is a lot of assistance technique, the productivity of people is raised and there is legal access to guarantee on the land. There are also amounts of waste land that governments have, there is unproductive land. I think it is very important to redistribute through those channels.

What does the FAO propose for a better food marketing system in Peru that includes information, organization, logistics, supply markets? What do you think about the business capabilities of agricultural producers, is there a future for our wealth of diversity, obviously diversity with producers without business skills?

—The first and most important thing is this provision of agrobiodiversity that this country has, which is extraordinary and has enormous potential, but of course, the small producer who in general is not associated, who does not have the basic foundations to advance in business schemes important, because it is far behind. It is very important to advance in associativity, to promote cooperatives more strongly, but one cannot create cooperatives for the sake of creating cooperatives, that implies generating many capacities, we must increase the productivity of producers and they must have access to innovation and the digital world which is something that agricultural exports already have in Peru. A process must be found through which this can be transferred to the producers and there is a very important role there, of course, for the Ministry of Agrarian Development, but many alliances with the private sector must also be sought for this.

You can have the best product, the most nutritious; However, if you don’t know how to sell it, you don’t know how to promote it, you keep the production and you lose…

—The marketing structure in Peru and Latin America is still very precarious because the marketing of agricultural products has huge intermediation lines, it has a lot of intermediation, much more than would be desirable. In addition, the supply and supply channels are super informal, the regulation is really minimal, so the price of freight, the price of transportation rises, so the producer sells very poorly, but food is already sold at a very high price, that’s why is that in Peru people have less and less access to a healthy diet despite the fact that there are healthy foods and that they are available. In Peru it does not happen like in some countries in Africa or Central America, where there is not enough availability. Here there is food availability, but there is no capacity to access it and this has a lot to do with the way food marketing works, its entry into wholesale markets, food markets, this still demands much greater regulation and that is where this curve can be flattened a bit, in addition to the inflation of food in Peru.

The FAO points out that world food prices have fallen 20.5%, which is encouraging news, but this should translate into a decline in the local market.

—This is the global consolidated figure, there is a reduction of the order of 20%, but if one could make an internal x-ray in the country it would surely be very unbalanced, because it does not apply to all agricultural products and does not apply to all regions. It must be taken into account that Peru and the world suffered last year from the fertilizer crisis, the high cost of these products such as wheat, corn, etc., and obviously what is happening now, as the price of food continues to rise without no doubt.

Depending on what we do now, in a situation of global warming, in a climatic emergency, it will be possible to ensure food for the following generations. What to do, how to prop up the country in terms of agrarian policy, in food policy to be in better conditions?

“There are two things to consider. Food systems in Peru participate in climate change, unlike other countries where industry is what contributes the most to climate change, Peru’s greatest contribution to climate change is through its agriculture and livestock. The way it is produced in Peru generates a very significant number of greenhouse gases. But also, Peru suffers the impacts of climate change, so it is important to understand that many of the answers lie in food systems; in the way it is produced, how it is marketed, how it is consumed. Whether or not food is wasted depends on consumption and the way in which it is produced and marketed depends enormously on not wasting food. This is essential. Circular economy systems must be promoted, this is very important in food systems, both in production and consumption and everything in between. It is very important to look for ways to produce that are more environmentally friendly, that contribute to neutralizing the carbonization of agriculture and livestock, and there are ways to do it. That has already been invented, that is, how to produce while emitting fewer greenhouse gases, and we must move in that direction. Water must be used more efficiently, watersheds and micro-watersheds must be cared for, management must be carried out, reforestation must be carried out, a lot of water must be planted, the agricultural frontier must be closed, the forest must be protected from the jungle. The jungle has other uses. You have to go there and you have to give small producers a lot of capacity so that they can both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. You have to deliver seed for short-cycle production, help to market very quickly. We cannot continue postponing decisions for the medium and long term because what we do or stop doing today will continue to generate consequences that could surely eventually become irreversible for food production.

Source: Larepublica

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