ISLAMABAD: Despite being on climate frontlines, small-scale farmers in rural areas are not receiving adequate funding, a UN agency working on food security has said, and called for a drastic and urgent increase in climate finance for small agribusinesses.

While referring to a report, ‘The Climate Finance Gap for Small Scale Agrifood Systems’, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said the funding has now fallen to $5.53 billion — less than 0.8 per cent of global climate finance in 2019-20.

“Small-scale farmers are often on the climate frontlines, living in vulnerable areas, and exposed to extreme weather events,” said the UN agency working to address poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.

The funding — for small-scale agrifood systems, including small-scale farmers, organisations and micro-agribusinesses — has fallen by 44pc from $9.85bn in 2017-18.

UN agency says smallholders are more vulnerable to extreme weather events

This decline starkly contrasted with a general rise in climate financing across other sectors, including energy and transport, but parallels a 20pc decrease for the agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors during the same period, the report said.

“This trend is extremely worrying. We are going in the wrong direction. Small-scale farmers, who feed entire communities and nations in the developing world, need to be able to adapt to climate change now. If they don’t, their lives and livelihoods — and global food security — are at risk,” said IFAD President Alvaro Lario.

Small-scale farmers produce one-third of the world’s food and up to 70pc of the food in low- and middle-income countries, and many of them are brutally impacted by climate change, said the report published by the ClimateShot Investor Coalition and the Climate Policy Initiative.

Solutions

To reverse this trend, small-scale farmers need to adopt climate-resilient and low-emission irrigation systems and infrastructure, agroecology and agroforestry practices, better soil management practices, and crop diversification, IFAD suggested.

In addition, early-warning and climate information systems and climate-proof infrastructures, such as food storage units and rural roads that could withstand flooding are essential to prevent loss and damage. With developing countries being in debt and having budget constraints, private sector investment is needed to adopt these solutions, IFAD said and called for an increase in funding for small farmers.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2023

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