December 4, 2015, by Lindsay Brooke
‘Call to Action’ on agricultural diversity and feeding a ‘hotter’ world
On Monday, Paris will be the venue for a ‘call to action’ on agricultural diversification `to feed a hotter world’. It will be one of the many events taking place in Paris alongside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Scientists from Crops for the Future (CFF) and partners, including The University of Nottingham in the UK and The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) will be launching the ‘Declaration on Agricultural Diversification’. It will be signed by leading figures from governments, academia, non-government organisations and business. The document will then be hosted on the internet for institutions and members of the public to put their digital signatures to the ‘call for action’.
The declaration calls on States, intergovernmental organisations and the non-government sector to take the following actions:
- Develop a Global Action Plan for Agricultural Diversification (GAPAD).
- Convene an International Conference on Agricultural Diversification under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
- Agree at the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP13) in Mexico in December 2016 on a process to formulate a ‘Protocol on Agricultural Diversification’ to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992.
The event hosted by CFF will be attended by ABhg Tun Jeanne Abdullah, patron of the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC).
CFF is the world’s first centre dedicated to research on underutilised crops for food and non-food uses. Guaranteed by UNMC and the Government of Malaysia it was launched in 2011 by Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. CFF will act as initiators of the Declaration on Agricultural Diversification and secretariat of GAPAD.
Significance of the declaration
From over half a million plant species on the planet, we currently rely on just four crops – wheat, rice, maize and soybean – for more than three-quarters of our food supply. These `major’ crops are grown in a limited number of exporting countries, usually as monocultures, and are highly dependent on inputs such as fertiliser and irrigation. Over seven billion people depend on the productivity of these major crops not just for their direct food needs but increasingly as raw materials for livestock and aquaculture feeds and bioenergy.
Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO of Crops for the Future, said: “We have little scientific evidence for exactly which crops and cropping systems will suit a hotter world. ‘Business as usual’ is not an option. However, to diversify the range of species and systems that will support agriculture in future climates, we need to agree on an action plan that is ambitious, global, inclusive and evidence-based. GAPAD will provide the opportunity to build a common vision, agreed activities, clear timelines and deliverables that meet specific SDG’s and targets of SDA 2030.”
Dr Sean Mayes, a specialist in crop genetics in Nottingham’s School of Biosciences, said: “As a species, we have very successfully adapted a number of major crop plants to our needs. However, there are many minor and underutilised crop species around the world which offer a wealth of potential for future agriculture, particularly where intensive monoculture of major crops falters. Making such crops part of more complex and sustainable agriculture which complements current resource intensive farming gives us access to many new options as well as the untapped potential from complementary combinations of species and also the genetic diversity present within each species.”
UNMC UG students part of Malaysia Youth Delegation
Three undergraduate students from UNMC will be attending the weekend’s Global Landscapes Forum. The event is expected to be the largest meeting on the sidelines of the COP21. They will also witness the signing of the ‘Declaration on Agricultural Diversification.’
The official signing of the declaration will take place at 1600 hours (local time) on Monday December 7 2016 in the Van Gogh meeting room at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile, Place Andre Malraux – 75001, Paris.
1530 Arrival of guests
1600 Welcome address by Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO of Crops For the Future
1605 Key note speech
1615 Speeches by leaders of global research institutes
1645 Signing of the Declaration
1730 Media interviews
More information is available from Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO of Crops for the Future (CFF), email@example.com, +60 192 774 135; or Zuraida Zainal Abidin at CFF Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, +60 389 248 799; or Lindsay Brooke, Media Relations Manager in the Communications Office at The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 9515751, email@example.com