The session focused on the challenges of climate change, uncertain markets and price volatility, and competition for land and water for other uses than food production. Participants called for risk management plans and adaptation tools for small-holder farmers.
“We face price volatility that is perhaps more severe now than ever,” said Jack Wilkinson, Vice Chairman of GFAR. “Farmers need the confidence to take risks and adopt new technologies without fear of losing everything, which can be achieved through support systems, such as crop insurance and credit programs.”
They also discussed the need to plant more diverse crops and establish more diverse farming systems. “Agriculture is focusing on too few crops and it is tending to promote uniformity,” said Jeff Sayer of IUCN. “Research needs to be more closely linked to users, more locally adapted, more networked, more tapped into traditional knowledge.”
Patti Kristjanson of the CGIAR Challenge Program on climate change argued for better knowledge transfer between producers and users, along with institutional innovations. She said that it is necessary to engage in collective action, support and study new technology opportunities in rural areas, and find new approaches for efficient and effective means of bringing key actors together.
Dr. M. V. L Sivakumar of the World Meteorological Organization named improvements in observation techniques and modeling and predictions, but also emphasized the need for more partnerships for successful implementation. Greatly increased user interaction is critical if we want to make progress, he said.