Negotiators from the industrialized and developing countries have failed to evolve a consensus on tackling the issue of climate change at the recently held UN Convention in Bangkok. Notwithstanding the deadline of Copenhagen, significant differences over the fixing of targets for the emissions and financing remain among countries. However, amidst this chaos, there are very encouraging reports of how farmers, especially the one with small land holding, can contribute substantially to address the issue of climate change.
The conventional scientists form the developed countries have been alleging that the farmers from the developing countries are responsible for adding methane emissions, especially in cultivating food crops like paddy in Asian countries.
|The world is well aware of the fossil fuel guzzling life styles of the US and other developed countries, which do not want to give up these comforts. However, not many people know that the industrial farming in developed regions like USA and EU is responsible for 40 percent of the green house gas emissions.
||However, not many people know that the industrial farming in developed regions like USA and EU is responsible for 40 percent of the green house gas emissions.
Factory farming driven by the greedy large multi national agri-business corporations is polluting the soil, river and oceans with high amounts of nitrogen, pesticides and other fertilizers. The forms of nitrogen provided by chemical fertilizers are readily transformed in the soil, resulting in emission of nitrous oxides into the atmosphere. The scientific findings have confirmed that these nitrous oxides are three-hundred times more damaging than CO2 in contributing to green house gas emissions. Worst still is the fact that they destroy ozone layer!
If these real time calculations of industrial farming are incorporated, the carbon footprint of USA, which is estimated to be 18 per cent, jumps to 30 percent! Obviously, the so-called "wealth" created by the only super power is at the cost of damaging the fragile ecosystems of the Earth. Ironically, the developing countries are trying to imitate this industrial agriculture model to resolve the crisis in farming sector.
Barcelona based international organisation GRAIN (Genetic Resources Action International) has done research to explore how the farmers can contribute towards addressing the issue of climate change and mitigation. The findings of the study show that the key component in mitigating the farm crisis is to increase the soil organic matter (SOM). The living soils function through a mixture of substances that originate from the decomposition of plant and animal material. They have the capacity to absorb 100 times more water and nutrients to be released to the plants later.
||GRAIN has calculated that by adding organics matter into our agricultural soils, in next fifty years we could capture 45 billion tones of CO2, more than two thirds of the current excess of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The accumulation of organic matters in the soil is the key factor in lowering the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus the capturing of carbon dioxide is possible through enhancing the organic matter in the soil.
The sustainable agricultural systems that survived for thousands of years in the East were those, which were able to maintain the regular cycle of SOM in their soil. This was done with the integration of the farming system with livestock, forestry and green manure. Once this cycle was broken by adoption of industrial agriculture, it led to depletion of the SOM resulting in poor quality of food, diseased soil and adding emissions.
GRAIN has calculated that by adding organics matter into our agricultural soils, in next fifty years we could capture 45 billion tones of CO2, more than two thirds of the current excess of CO2 in the atmosphere.
But how and who are capable of fixing the SOM in the agricultural soil? The methodology for enhancing the organic matter needs to be based on decentralized animal husbandry that is integrated into diversified crop production. It is only the small farmers who have the capacity and willingness to work it out on the fields. This approach is beyond the reach of factory farms that protect the interest of agri-business.
Fortunately the small and marginal farmers in numerous regions of India are specifically practicing this technique for long. Imagine the contribution of diversified cropping systems with millets, organic manure and livestock integrated together in several eco regions. These resource and knowledge rich farmers would be able to get some benefits from the business of carbon sequestration. Unfortunately we stamp such a farmer as 'primitive' who is not progressive enough into adopting fossil fuel based chemical agriculture.
This is a very positive case for the farming community world wide. Countries like India can take it to the logical end in the Copenhagen Summit to press for policies to mitigate the crisis of climate change. But it is doubtful if our policy makers would be willing to even consider this as a possible solution?
Small farmers are ready to cool the Earth, but do policy makers care?