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Moving towards Climate-Smart Agriculture

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes, cropland, livestock, forests, and fisheries, that address the interlinked challenges of food security and accelerating climate change.

Throughout the years, we have been discussing the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture and the need for controlled environment agriculture. Controlled environment agriculture is a type of agriculture where the conditions for plant growth, including nutrients, moisture, light, and airflow, are controlled by the cultivator to boost crop health, yield, or other characteristics, beyond the measures used in conventional agriculture. Such agriculture includes indoor agriculture and farming using food towers.

The overall objective of Climate-smart agriculture is to produce a green economy. A ‘green economy’ is defined as the interrelated systems of production that are low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive.

In a green economy, growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Some of the technologies that are associated with climate-smart agriculture include grow rooms and technology-driven greenhouses outfitted with hydroponic systems. A grow room or growth chamber is a room of any size where plants are grown under controlled conditions.

A greenhouse is a structure with walls and roof made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plants requiring regulated climatic conditions are grown.

Also in the area of climate-smart agriculture, isotopic signatures, biomonitoring, and bioassays are used to monitor the various chemicals used in agriculture, as well as for the assessment of the transfer of chemicals to the environment and, ultimately, the food supply chain.

Isotopic techniques are also being used in agricultural water management, including the development of water-saving technological packages. Induced crop mutation can produce new varieties of crops that are adapted to abiotic stresses, rendering them able to thrive under changed environmental conditions.

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CSA aims to simultaneously achieve three outcomes:

  1. Increased productivity: Produce more and better food to improve nutrition security and boost incomes, especially of the 75 per cent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and mainly rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
  2. Enhanced resilience: Reduce vulnerability to drought, pests, diseases and other climate-related risks and shocks; and improve capacity to adapt and grow in the face of longer-term stresses like shortened seasons and erratic weather patterns.
  3. Reduced emissions: Pursue lower emissions for each calorie or kilo of food produced, avoid deforestation from agriculture, and identify ways to absorb carbon out of the atmosphere.