The purpose of this project is tp provide a report containing an analysis and policy recommendations for a development
policy aiming at a Sustainable Development with regard to agriculture and rural areas, food security and climate
change. Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (SARD) is here understood as a process, which
1. Ensures that the basic nutritional requirements of present and future generations,
2. Provides durable employment, sufficient income, for all those engaged in agricultural production,
3. Maintains and, where possible, enhances the productive capacity of the natural resource base as a whole,
4. Reduces the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to adverse natural and socio-economic factors (FAO 1995).
The SARD approach has been further elaborated and operationalized, among others, in a broad ecoregional research programme (Rabbinge, 1995; Bouma et al., 2007) and by other scholars such as Roetter et al. (2007) and De Lattre-Gasquet et al. (2008).
In 1999, FAO proposed a policy-oriented analytical framework called the multi-functional character of agriculture and land use. This so-called MFCAL framework evolved from and builds on SARD. (FAO, 1999). SARD is considered a key to achieving MDG1, i.e. the Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and severe poverty. Chapter 20 of the recent IPCC 4th assessment report, Working Group II "Perspectives on Climate Change and Sustainability" (IPCC 2007) underlines this and other interrelationships between climate change and sustainable development. Agro-technology improvement and productivity growth can serve in reducing hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
The agricultural technology developed in this context has to be environmentally appropriate and it has to support socially adequate and equitable development. The process in which agricultural development is taking place will take into account the needs not only of commercial farmers but especially the needs of the many smallholders and marginal farmers living in remote areas. In addition to technological change, institutional changes are needed to support poor farmers and smallholders, such as formation of producer organizations and farmer-controlled cooperatives, marketing organization and credit institutions (including rural finance institutions). Special attention should be given to women, given their role as agricultural producers in many countries, and in improving the nutritional status of children.
These processes take place within a setting of the climate change which may lead to a still worsening situation of many food producing regions. All the developments, both through policy and technological tools, have to be adjusted to climatic change, which hits worst the low-income countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. That comprises three strategies:
1) adaptation of food and farming systems to climate change,
2) enhancing the adaptive capacity to changes in climate variability and extremes that are difficult to predict, and to global change more generally (including socio-economic changes), and
3) mitigation of climate change.
While the development strategies for low-income countries should primarily head to enhance the adaptive capacity, and to adapt to expected changes, mitigation of industrial countries offers opportunities for additional income and improved rural livelihoods for small-holders in developing countries. One example of such business opportunities linked to conserving and utilising ecosystem services is carbon trade through agroforestry, and recycling of organic matter, also linked with bioenergy systems (forest and soil as carbon sink). This is also an example of synergy among producing food and energy, and defeating soil degradation worsened by climate change. A specific and very acute additional factor affecting smallholder agriculture development and food security is the rapid increase in food prices which has affected negatively the many very poor and food insecure subsistence farmers and urban consumers. There is some chance that the same increased food prices can boost agricultural production if appropriate measures are taken.
Recommendations on how Finland can promote sustainable agriculture and rural development will be formulated especially with regard to Finland's long-term cooperation partners (e.g. Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Vietnam, Nicaragua) and, if required, to some extent also other African, Asian and Latin American countries.