Research improves the productivity of agricultural and food systems even in the midst of Climate Change. We know that agricultural productivity drives economic development in the countries where Feed the Future works.
Research in areas like crop and animal breeding, irrigation, and sustainable intensification allows smallholder farmers to get more with the same inputs. This is particularly important and pressing as climate chαnge decreases yields and makes it more challenging for farmers in many parts of the world to thrive.
Resεarch investments lead to a tenfold rate of return. Research and development on improved agricultural technologies and practices have direct economic benefits for farmers. In developing countries, the social rate of return to agricultural research and development averages approximately 40% per year.
A 2020 report found that the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) resεarch investments have returned benefits tenfold. The returns are evidenced by greater food availability, reduced hunger and malnutrition, and a smaller agricultural footprint.
Resεarch enables partners to adapt to a changing climate. Climate chαnge exacerbates the challenge of increased productivity, but investment in climate-smart agriculture innovations and practices faces this challenge head-on.
For example, Heat Tolerant Maize for Asia (HTMA) research produced high-yielding, stress-resilient maize hybrid seed that reached approximately 65,400 smallholder households in 2021. New varieties of seed allow farmers to be more resilient to extreme weather events, such as high temperatures and droughts.
Resεarch not only helps farmers adapt, but it can also help mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change. The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Current and Emerging Threats to Crops (CETC) is working to scale up agroforestry by planting trees on farm borders and converting biomass to biochar, which is then added back to the soil.
These methods are well-recognized drought proofing, and the work is expected to improve soil nutrients and contribute to carbon sequestration.
Research for Food Security in a Climate Change month
We would like to thank the Agrilinks community for engaging with the Reseαrch for Food Security in a Changing Climαte content throughout the month. A special thanks go out to our A Vision for Crop Improvement and Food Security in a Changing Climate webinar panelists, Tony Gathungu of Seeds2B at the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Alison Bentley of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s Global Wheat Program, Geoff Morris of Colorado State University, Mark Edge of Bayer, and Charlie Messina from the University of Florida.
We were thrilled to host Rattan Lal as this year’s USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security’s honorary research lecturer. His work drives home the overwhelming role that soil health contributes directly and indirectly to human health, as well as ecological and planetary health.
He outlined the current challenges that soil degradation produces and highlighted ways that resεarch can contribute to climate-smart regenerative agriculture.
We would also like to thank all of you who contributed blog posts this February. We appreciate the diversity of topics, as they reflect that climate change affects all aspects of food systems.
All of the month’s content is available and we highly recommend you take some time to read how your colleagues are engaged in addressing climate change through agricultural resear⊂h: New Market Resear⊂h Captures the Potential of Mali’s Solar-Powered Irrigation Sector; Capitalizing on Time in the Race to Breed Inclusive, Resilient Crops; and Collaborative Research on Livestock Feed-Related Interventions Improves Productivity and Tackles Climαte Change in Africa.
Lastly, a huge thank you and kudos to the Agrilinks community for providing feedback on the U.S. government’s Global Food Security Research Strategy outline. Your comments and suggestions have been well-received and are currently being integrated to strengthen the 2022-2026 Resear⊂h Strategy so that it reflects a clear vision to address agricultural challenges, including around climate chαnge.