'We must save farmers from climate change' – Bill Gates

World Thursday 11/July/2019 15:18 PM
By: Times News Service

Seattle: Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has called for more protection to be given to small farmers, so that their crop yields are not affected by climate change.

Millions of farmers across the world harvest crops from small parcels of land, many of which are just enough to provide them a meagre existence, and Gates is worried that as the effects of climate change, such as drought and flooding are felt, many of these crop yields will be reduced or worse still, get destroyed completely.

While it does mean these farmers will not be able to eke out a living, it also means that millions of people around the world who depend on this food for their survival won’t get enough.

“I’ve been writing a lot this year about why reducing emissions from all sectors of our economy, including agriculture and electricity generation, is critical in our fight against climate change,” said Gates. “But it’s equally important for the world to stay focused on helping vulnerable populations, like smallholder farmers, prepare for the disruptive impacts of climate change. We owe it to them. The people who will suffer most from climate change, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are the least responsible for emitting these greenhouse gases.

“The people who are most affected by these changes today are the world’s smallholder farmers. About 500 million farming households, in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, earn their living by raising crops and livestock on small parcels of land. These families have the fewest resources to cope with the many impacts of a warming climate.”
Gates also spoke about the importance of CGIAR, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, the world’s largest agricultural research organisation, that groups together international organisations engaged in research for a food-secure future.

He gave examples of how CGIAR’s programmes on the ground had helped poor and vulnerable farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, better their yield and therefore provide them better sources of income.

“More than 50 years ago, CGIAR’s research into high-yielding, disease-resistant rice and wheat launched the Green Revolution, saving more than a billion people from starvation,” said Gates. “In the years since then, their work on everything from livestock and potatoes to rice and maize has helped reduce poverty, increase food security, and improve nutrition. It’s too bad that more people don’t know about CGIAR.

“Their work to feed our hungry planet is as important now as it’s ever been. By 2050, as the world’s population gets bigger and incomes increase (which causes dietary changes like eating more meat), global food demand is expected to increase by 60 percent,” he added. “Meeting this challenge is made tougher by climate change, which is affecting food production in every corner of the globe. Farmers are under assault from shifting rainfall, more frequent and extreme droughts and floods, and severe pest and disease outbreaks among crops and livestock.”