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How can SDG 2, Zero Hunger, be reached in a changing climate?

Published on November 28, 2018 | Author: Linus Karlsson
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After decades of progress to eradicate hunger, the number of undernourished people in the world appears to increase again. Conflict, drought and weather-related disasters are the primary reasons for this development, severely affecting smallholder farmers.

IFPRI and FAO is this week organizing a global conference on how to speed up the transformation of our agri-food systems. The conference, Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition, addresses the urgency of reaching SDG 2 as no other development goal can be reached if people are hungry and malnourished. The conference has similar objectives as the International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers, which Agroforestry Network wrote about last week. Both these events focus on agricultural innovation and success stories and how such can be scaled up to eradicate hunger.

Agroforestry contributes to food security in multiple ways

SDG 2 is a corner stone in the work of Agroforestry Network and our partners. In our recent publication SCALING UP AGROFORESTRY Potential, Challenges and Barriers, we conclude that agroforestry contributes to food security in multiple ways. For example, when crops are mixed with suitable trees yields increase, especially when nitrogen-fixing trees are planted. In some cases trees can though compete for recourses resulting in yield reductions. When this happens negative effects are often compensated by other benefits, such as increased production of firewood, building material and fruits and nuts. Farmers that can harvest fruits and nuts are less likely to suffer from malnutrition, as these tree products are rich in micronutrients, fibres and proteins. Farmers that can harvest more firewood can also cook crops that require longer time on the stove. Such crops are as well often rich in nutrients.

Farmers living in poverty rely on tree products in times of hardship

As IFPRI and FAO points out, one of the major reasons for the increasing food insecurity is disasters that can be linked to climate change. When yields are lost because of a draught or a rainstorm, trees can provide an important coping mechanism, as they are more resilient than annual crops. Farmers living in poverty, and especially women, often rely on tree products for food and additional income in times of hardship.

Agroforestry creates resilient multifunctional landscapes

On the larger scale agroforestry creases multifunctional landscapes. Such landscapes provide more ecosystem services, e.g. ground water formation and pest control, than landscapes dominated by a few species of crops or trees. In a changing climate, multifunctional landscaped are also essential because they are more resilient to changes and shocks. Agroforestry is thus not only a suitable to improve food security, but also to transform agri-food systems to become resilient to climate change.