GACSA stands for the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. It appears to be the brainchild of a few governments and international bodies, working with ideas being developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This has published a ‘Source Book’. What looks like a loose alliance of some 21 governments, including the UK, USA, Canada, Japan and 9 other European governments and 70 international research and academic bodies has come together with some corporate names like Walmart, Syngenta, Kellogg, MacDonald and the worlds largest fertilizer manufacturer, Yara.
Three aims are set out:-
* Sustainable and equitable increase in agricultural productivity and incomes.
* Greater resilience of food systems and farming livelihoods.
* Reduction or removal of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, where possible.
The Source book makes useful, general points such as:-
* Remedies for problems in farming must be applicable in local situations, or
* a holistic approach involving land, crops and people must be adopted.
There are a number of other general principles.
However, this Alliance has drawn strong criticism in a letter signed by Environmental and Development organisations, such as, Friends of the Earth and Action Aid and also by a large number of farmer and community organisations from all over the world.
They say that no attempt is being made to produce criteria for assessing whether farming techniques or innovations are in fact, climate smart. Nor is anything being done to develop means of assessing this. They express the fear that whilst capturing international funds, the Alliance will serve simply to confer the title ‘Climate Smart’ on companies and technologies that already exist for other reasons.
Examples of things that might be examined carefully, I think, are the role of Nitrogen fertilizer, both in production and in its use in adding to emissions of greenhouse gases and the role of long term pasture in carbon retention.
Having listened to the UK Government representative in this Alliance being pressed very hard on this issue I have to say that I share these reservations.