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One of the ways to mitigate the negative impact of agriculture on climate, which PGN tries to promote through our campaign, is building alternative food systems based on sustainable local food production, distribution and consumption. This type of food systems, by using more ecological farming methods and shortening the distance between farmers and consumers, help, among other things, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve natural resource protection. Among various alternative models of food production and distribution increasingly popular is the so-called community supported agriculture (CSA).

Food from the farmer you know

The beginnings of the CSA model, which is based on the close cooperation between farmers and a group of people interested in eating healthy local food, go back to the 1960s. First initiatives of this kind were started in Germany, Switzerland and Japan as a response to the wave of urbanization and the deterioration of conditions of food production in the countryside. Creating a relationship between consumers and farmers characterised by partnership is a building block of this type of cooperation. Consumers who want to receive healthy and sustainably produced food pay up front the producers for the whole season of deliveries. In this way consumers secure the supply of food and farmers the sale of their products.

What is CSA really about?

CSA focuses on the production of high quality food for a local community. The production very often uses organic, biodynamic or permaculture farming methods. The key elements are close cooperation and trust between participating farmers and consumers. A group of consumers provides the farmers with money by paying in advance for the whole season of supplies of jointly agreed types of products (usually vegetables and fruits). As a result the participating farms do not need to search for new markets for their produce and can focus solely on growing food for their supporting community.

The consumers and producers jointly agree on the budget. Usually, it is farmers who carry out the necessary calculation of the production costs (seeds, machinery, transport, labour and so on). Naturally, the system might have numerous variations. The main differences concern the construction of the budget and the ways of delivering food. In order to reduce their ecological footprint, communities usually try to initiate cooperation with farms close to the cities in which they live. The distribution of food among the participating consumers can take various forms. Most often it is based on the system of packages or baskets - each participant receives regularly a package with the ordered products which is delivered directly to their household or picked up individually from the agreed place.

In many CSA initiatives the consumers engage in the work on farms. Depending on the agreement with the farmers, it could be either regular work, allowing to reduce the costs, or work of a more educational character - the consumers visit the farms where they can learn more about the ways of producing food.

Sharing risk

CSA creates a favourable environment for small-scale farms. The relationship between farmers and consumers, usually mediated by the market where the main goal is profit, changes into a personal and trust-based contact in which respect and cooperation replace the market logic. An essential element of this model is the sharing risk concept which is usually absent from traditional market transactions. In CSA consumers pay farmers in advance and thus accept the possibility of unexpected circumstances which may prevent the crops from achieving planned yields.

Global and local context

In the wider context, the goal of CSA is turning around the current tendency of replacing small-scale farms with industrial food production as well as preserving biological and cultural diversity in the countryside. In Poland, for example, this trend is quite visible - the number of farms has significantly diminished and their size has grown. CSA as well as other similar initiatives, such as food cooperatives, have a chance to become a real alternative to industrial food production, which is ineffective and harmful for the environment and climate.

Probably the first CSA initiative in Poland was started in spring 2012 in the Mazovia region between a group of consumers in Warsaw and the farmers in the village called Świerże Panki. Since then the interest in this model of agriculture has grown in the Polish society and new initiatives have been started in various parts of Poland.

Benefits for farmers and consumers

In conclusion, CSA brings many benefits for both farmers and consumers. Farmers, among other things: save time and energy needed to find recipients for their products; receive payment in the beginning of the season which secures their liquidity and allows for necessary investments; become independent from commercial loans; have an opportunity to meet people who buy their food; can get help from consumers in the work on farms. Consumers, on the other hand: buy fresh, healthy and seasonal products; learn how their food is produced and thus the consumed products stop being anonymous; know in advance time of the deliveries and can save time spent on traditional shopping; become a part of the community; have an opportunity to gain knowledge about growing food and working on farms. Both groups contribute to the protection of environment and to lessening the negative impact of agriculture and food production on climate.

The above article was written on the basis of the excerpt from the action guide "Time for change. Choose locality! How to support environment- and people-friendly agriculture?" published in Polish by PGN.

Photo credit: Suzie's Farm (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lunedì, 18 Maggio 2015 02:00

Farmers in Ghana adapt to climate change

In another series of short videos farmers from the Global South speak about their struggle with the consequences of climate change. This time you can learn more about the challenges faced by small-scale farmers in Ghana.

In the first video, Naakpi Kuunwena, a farmer from Koyukuo village in the north-western part of Ghana, talks about the impact of climate change on his crops. He is especially concerned about the changes in the rainfall pattern observed in the recent years as well as the increasing water scarcity and the lack of necessary irrigation infrastructure such as dam. The appropriate irrigation system is essential in the current situation of growing problems with rains. Even though an NGO has drilled a borehole in his fields, it is not enough as it allows to fill only a couple of buckets. Naakpi additionally pumps the water to his fields from the nearby river, but this water source is also unreliable because the river dries up too fast in the dry season. Watch the video here.

The second video presents Yusif Hadi, a hard-working cattleman and a farmer from Koyukuo village. He talks about the increasing lack of rainfall in the area and its negative consequences on crops and the availability of the animal feed. The cattlemen are forced to change the feeding habits of their herds by supplementing the fodder with maize husks and groundnut tops. Another strategy used by Yusif to adapt to the changing climate and shorter rain seasons is planting faster growing maize varieties. Watch the video here.

In the next video, Joel Yiri, a farmer from Jiripa village, explains his business approach to farming which has allowed him to significantly improve the situation of his farm. For some time he has been using pig manure as a fertilizer on his fields, which has helped him to increase his maize yields and consequently also his income. Joel points out that changes in the rainfall patterns mean that local farmers have to adapt to the new circumstances. This can be done in various ways, for example through crop diversification. Watch the video here.

The last video focuses on Jumuo Namaayi, who is a farmer from Koyukuo village. He describes how over the last few years the rainy season has become shorter and how this has impacted various crops and the production of fruits such as mango. The fruits increasingly do not ripen in time and are attacked by more pests and diseases. Local farmers have also problem with growing maize. Not enough yields force villagers to migrate south in search of work. One response to to this situation suggested by the authorities has been to include new crop varieties which grow faster. Watch the video here.

Source: CCAFS

Photo credit: Neil Palmer / CIAT (Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

We encourage you to watch a series of short videos exploring various ways in which small-scale farmers from Kenya try to adapt to changing climate.

The first video presents Margaret Silas from Ngurumo village. On her farm she grows mainly coffee, sweet potatoes, mango, macadamia, arrow roots and trees. Due to the lack of rain farmers in her village face a lot of problems. Most of all seedlings tend to dry out and farmers are forced to carry out re-plantation. In order to adapt to these challenges, Margaret started to use on her farm more sustainable farming techniques, which result in higher yields and improved food security. Using more manure and planting seeds in small holes allow the seeds to survive up to two weeks without rain. More sustainable farming methods protect soil and prevent it from eroding. Consequently, this leads to better crops, as proved by Margaret, whose maize yields have increased from 3-4 to 57 bags. Watch the video here.

The second video focuses on Andrew Gitari, who is a farmer and a former teacher in Kabaune village in the Giaki region. He talks about the impact of deforestation on the environment and the importance of trees in attracting water and rain as well as protecting soil from erosion. He explains the need for the right types of the trees which do not demand a lot of water themselves. Currently, farmers in his village grow fruit trees such as mango and guava. Watch the video here.

The next video tells the story of Anastacia Muthoni, who is a widowed farmer living in Makengi. She talks about the problems caused by the lack of rainfall and the need for additional irrigation of the crops on her farm. One way in which farmers in her village try adapt to climate change is through crop diversification, for example by planting cassava on their fields. Watch the video here.

The fourth video presents Celeste Thia Kangani and Julia Ndia from Karurumo village. They are farmers who despite their old age must take care of their orphaned grandchildren and face challenges related to the decreasing yields. They describe how the climate has changed locally and rains have become less frequent. In the past Celeste and Julia planted sweet potatoes and cassava, which used to give high yields, but now the situation has changed and they are forced to use fertilizers for the first time. Watch the video here.

In the next video Celeste M. Nyaga from the Karwe village explains how the new seeds varieties and training on different farming techniques are helping local farmers adapt to challenges caused by changing rainfall patterns. Watch the video here.

The sixth video presents Ruth Marigu Njue, who is a single mother taking care of 10 children in the Kururumo village. Farming is currently harder for her than it used to be because of numerous problems caused by higher temperatures and the lack of rains. In order to avoid plant diseases and pests, she has started to cultivate fast growing crop varieties which help her adapt to climate change. As a way to cope with the draughts she has also begun to plant more trees around her farm as they are supposed to attract water and rains. Watch the video here.

The last video tells the story of the Kamburu community and their cooperation with the Kenyan Institute of Culture and Ecology (ICE). It shows how the local community worked together in order to reclaim control over its food system and as a result it became more united, healthier and more resilient to climate change. In cooperation with ICE Kamburu members re-learnt how to use traditional sustainable farming techniques, such as composting and using manure as a fertilizer. They increased biodiversity of their crops through returning to local seeds and introducing a greater variety of indigenous plants. The project was a good exemplification of the fact that the agricultural knowledge needed to achieve food security, protect environment and adapt to climate change can be very often found already within local communities. Watch the video here.

Source: CCAFS & ICE

Photo credit: P. Casier / CGIAR (Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Fish and other seafood is currently a primary source of protein for more than a billion of the poorest people in the world. For many of them fishing is also the main source of income. Unfortunately, due to rising CO2 emissions oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic. This process is threatening current habitats of fish and shellfish and is negatively affecting the balance of marine life. Many fish species, for instance, are starting to migrate away from the tropics into deeper and colder waters.

A report published by Oceana, international organization working for the protection of the world's oceans, predicts which countries in the coming decades will be most vulnerable to the problems with the ocean-based food security caused by climate change and ocean acidification.

The authors of the report warn about the growing food insecurity especially in small island and coastal countries, such as Maldives, Togo, Comoros, Cook Islands, Eritrea or Guyana. The majority of these nations lack resources which could replace what is lost from the sea. But among the countries threatened by the loss of fish resources due to climate change are also oil-producing nations such as Iran, Libya, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

As underlined by the report, in all the affected countries it will be the poor small-scale fishermen and their families that will suffer the most, even though they are the least responsible for climate change and its impact on the state of marine life.

Among the most important actions needed to minimize the consequences of climate change and ocean acidification, Oceana mentions: reducing CO2 emissions; ending subsidies for fossil fuels; stopping overfishing and destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling; establishing marine protected areas and including the impact of climate change in the ocean resources management.

The full report is available to download here.

Source: Oceana

Photo credit: Chris Bene / WorldFish (Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Watch farmers sharing their experience related to climate change and talking about their expectations with regard to the actions needed from decision makers and the international community.

Climate change is a growing problem worldwide, but its consequences are felt the most by poor farmers in the Global South countries. Water scarcity, increasing temperatures, erratic rainfall - these are just some of the challenges faced by small-scale farmers due to climate change, which has a negative impact on crops, the state of ecosystems and farms' income.

In the short video, recorded during the UN climate change conference taking place in December 2014 in Lima, farmers from India, Kenya and Peru share their experience regarding climate change. In the video they talk about the methods used by their communities to adapt to climate change consequences as well as their expectations concerning actions which should be undertaken by decision makers in order to secure future of the global food production.

Watch the video here.

Source: CCAFS

Mercoledì, 11 Febbraio 2015 02:00

Reaching people in Poland

During the first two years of the ClimATE Change project Polish Green Network produced a number of publications on the themes of our campaign. Their main goal has been to raise awareness among the wider public in Poland on the links between climate change and agriculture in the context of food production and natural resources protection both locally and globally.

Report "Growing disruption: Climate change, food, and the fight against hunger"

In the first year of the project we published Polish version of the Oxfam report about the impact of climate change on the causes of hunger in the world. The translation was prepared by PGN and Polish Humanitarian Action in connection with the UN Climate Conference (COP19) which took place in November 2013 in Warsaw. The report explains how the consequences of climate change, such as more frequent and more intense extreme weather events and changing rainfall patterns, threaten the production and distribution of food in various regions of the world. It shows also how these negative impacts can be averted through urgent action aimed at mitigating climate change as well as fixing our broken food system and strengthening its resilience. More about the report here.

Leaflet "Where does your food come from? A few tips for a consumer"

As an introduction to some of the themes of our campaign PGN produced information leaflet for Polish recipients. It explains in a graphically attractive manner why consumers should try to choose food coming from local and sustainable agriculture as it is the most climate-, environment- and people-friendly mode of food production. Our leaflet has been widely distributed during project events as well as various other PGN activities. Additionally, it was disseminated among our cooperating organizations and schools. The electronic version of the leaflet is available here.

Video-reportage "Power in Coop"

In order to reach more people with the message of the project PGN created a short documentary video showing why and how consumers can support people- and climate-friendly agriculture through cooperation with farmers and participation in alternative food systems based on local food production and distribution, such as food cooperatives and various community supported agriculture initiatives. In our film, titled "Power in Coop", people engaged in the food cooperatives movement and representatives of non-governmental organisations working for sustainable agriculture in Poland explain why consumers should try to buy locally produced food and how they can work with farmers to create more sustainable world. The film (with English subtitles) can be watched here.

Research reports

PGN published and distributed widely Polish versions of the research reports from Mozambique and Nicaragua prepared by INKOTA. The report from Mozambique deals with the problem of land-grabbing and its social and environmental impact. Its Polish translation is available here. The report from Nicaragua focuses on the consequences of climate change on agriculture and food security and various ways of adapting to them. Its Polish version is available here.

Cotton bags

In order to promote our campaign PGN produced specially designed bags made of fair trade organic cotton. The printing on the bags uses the logo of our project to promote its themes and Polish website. The bags have been distributed during project events as well as numerous other activities organized by PGN. They have been very popular among the recipients and allowed to inform widely about the campaign.

Educational presentations "Agriculture and climate change"

PGN created also a set of electronic presentations on the themes of the project. It consists of 7 educational presentations serving as an introduction to such topics as: local and global interdependencies between climate change and agriculture; sustainable agriculture, climate change mitigation and natural resources protection; sustainable food production and consumer choices. The presentations are aimed at the general public in Poland, with a special focus on young people and teachers, and can be freely used and downloaded from the PGN website as well as portal.

Additionally, we have been regularly publishing articles about project themes and activities in the special section dedicated to our campaign on the widely visited PGN's website about climate change issues: Furthermore, in 2014 we published in the Polish press an article about environmental and social consequences of the industrial agriculture.

Martedì, 27 Gennaio 2015 02:00

Conference in Warsaw

Another event of the ClimATE Change project is behind us. The international conference "Future Agriculture Farmer- and Climate-friendly" organized by Polish Green Network took place on the 12-13 December 2014 in Warsaw, Poland. We want thank all the attendees for their active participation during those two days. Among many participants of the conference were farmers, food producers, representatives of the academia, journalists and other people engaged in the promotion of sustainable agriculture.

The first day of the conference, moderated by Antoni Bielewicz from the European Climate Foundation, was filled with lectures, presentations and discussions with the participation of Polish experts as well as guests from Germany, Italy and Malta. On the second day of the conference there was a study visit in Mazovia region farms titled "On the trail of climate-smart practices".

The first speaker of the conference was Marcin Popkiewicz, physicist, lecturer, writer and journalist, specializing in the issues of economy, energy, natural resources and environmental protection. His presentation on the impact of climate change on agriculture and vice versa served as an excellent introduction to the themes of the conference. The lecture made it evident that serious reduction of the greenhouse gases emissions from agriculture and transforming the global agricultural production into a more sustainable one are essential to feed our planet in the context of changing climate.

Our next speaker was Łukasz Nowacki from Transformation Foundation, sustainable agriculture promoter and permaculture teacher, specializing in eco-hydrology and ecosystem biotechnologies. His presentation explained how one can protect natural resources on a farm and at the same time contribute to the climate protection. The presentation clearly showed that one of the best ways for farmers to guarantee crop yields in the situation of climate change is restoring natural soil fertility.

Examples from Italy, Malta and Germany

Next speeches were given by our guests from the ClimATE Change project partner organizations. Rosiaro Lembo, from the Italian organization CICMA, spoke about international actions concerning access to water and food in the context of climate change, especially in the global South countries.

In Italy increasingly popular are the so-called eco-regions, which engage local communities in the development of sustainable agriculture. AIAB, the network of Italian organic farming movements, is currently engaged in creation of the network of such initiatives which bring together not only farmers, producers and consumers but also local authorities. AIAB's activities and Italian eco-regions were presented by Pietro Pinto from COSPE.

Irene Mangion, from the Maltese organisation KOPIN, presented challenges related to climate change faced by farmers in Malta. Due to Malta's location and its environmental conditions, farmers struggle there with the lack of access to the enough amount of water. Additionally, soil salinization is increasing which causes big difficulties for both food producers and other island inhabitants. In these conditions especially important are various organic farming initiatives which promote natural food production methods. This is why KOPIN is engaged, among other things, in the promotion of permaculutre. KOPIN representative spoke also about KOPIN projects with farmers in Ethiopia.

Jan Urhahn, from the organization INKOTA, gave presentation about new social movements supporting local food production and consumption in Germany. Among various initiatives gaining increasing popularity are urban gardens, food cooperatives and other consumer groups. INKOTA representative presented also projects implemented by INKOTA together with farmers in Nicaragua and Mozambique.

Voice of the Polish participants

The first day of the conference was concluded with the panel discussion about the situation of the organic farming in Poland in the context of the climate protection activities. Among the speakers were Katarzyna Jagiełło from Greenpeace Poland, Maria Staniszewska from Polish Ecological Club, Aleksandra Priwieziencew from Social Ecological Institute and AgriNatura Foundation, and Piotr Trzaskowski from Warsaw Food Cooperative. Our panelists presented the activities of their organizations and together with other conference participants tried to answer the question how the development of sustainable and organic farming in Poland can be best supported. The discussion ended with the screening of the Polish Green Network's short film "Power in Coop".

Study visit in the Mazovia region farms

The second day of the conference was dedicated to the study visit in three farms, including two organic ones. Our guide was Ewa Sieniarska from Social Ecological Institute, who has been cooperating with farmers in the region for years. During our visit we wanted to show the participants how small farmers and food producers cope in Poland and how their practices, also in case of animal husbandry and meat production, can support climate protection.

To view photos from the conference click here.

Martedì, 13 Gennaio 2015 02:00

Power in Coop!

Cooperation, community, local food! We invite you to see a short documentary film, created by Polish Green Network, showing why and how consumers can support sustainable agriculture.

One of the main goals of the ClimATE Change project activities is raising awareness on the role of sustainable agriculture in addressing the climate change challenges in the context of food production and natural resources protection. We also try to show how consumers can support people- and climate-friendly agriculture through cooperation with farmers and building alternative food systems based on local food production and distribution, such as food cooperatives and various community supported agriculture initiatives.

In our film, titled "Power in Coop", people engaged in the food cooperatives movement and representatives of non-governmental organisations working for sustainable agriculture in Poland explain why consumers should try to buy local food and how they can cooperate with farmers. The interviews were filmed during the Open Cooperation Picnic of the 3rd Congress of Cooperatives taking place in June 2014 in Krakow, which was co-organized by Polish Green Network as one of the local public events in the framework of the ClimATE Change project.

We want to thank very much the authors of the film and all the interviewees for their cooperation. We hope that our film will be a source of inspiration to all viewers!

See the film (with English subtitles) here:

Venerdì, 19 Dicembre 2014 02:00

Training seminar in Poland

On the 27-28th November 2014, Polish Green Network, in the framework of the ClimATE Change project, held a training seminar in Warsaw titled "Climate for farmers - Cooperation to the benefit of farmers and climate".

The seminar was organized in partnership with Transformation Foundation and Polish Ecological Club. Its main goal was raising theoretical and practical knowledge of the participants on the issues of sustainable agriculture and the ways of supporting, both locally and globally, this model of food production as it is most climate-, environment- and people-friendly. Among the seminar participants were farmers, consumers, food producers and distributors as well as representatives of organizations working for the development of sustainable agriculture and responsible consumption in Poland.

One of the presenters was Łukasz Nowacki from Transformation Foundation, who gave lecture about the natural methods of increasing productivity of agriculture and reducing its negative impact on the environment, which can be implemented especially on farms but also on smaller scale in gardens or green urban areas. A representative of Poland's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development explained to the seminar participants the main directions of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. Afterwards, Mieczysław Babalski, one of the pioneers of the organic farming in Poland, presented the advantages of building cooperation and longterm relations between farmers as well as farmers and consumers.

Three different types of initiatives started by consumers who want to buy food directly from farmers were presented by Wojciech Mejor. Community supported agriculture, food cooperatives and the first shop in Poland run by a food cooperative are all examples of activities based on cooperation and working together, which are beneficial to both consumers and farmers. The issue of cooperation within bigger networks of organizations - including international ones - was explained by Maria Staniszewska from Polish Ecological Club. The seminar ended with a very interesting panel discussion with the participation of various experts, farmers and activists.

The seminar showed clearly that activities supporting sustainable agriculture both locally and globally are on the rise around the world and despite the fact that industrial agriculture model still has a dominant position, voices demanding radical changes are increasingly heard. During the seminar the participants created a first draft of the charter which is supposed to present problems and challenges faced by farmers and consumers. The charter is also meant to be an attempt to find effective tools to support the development of sustainable agriculture in Poland.

The international conference "Future Agriculture Farmer- and Climate-friendly" will be held on the 12-13 December 2014 in Warsaw, Poland. The Conference is organized by Polish Green Network in the framework of the ClimATE Change project.

Agriculture is an important source of the greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time climate change threatens food production in Europe and other regions of the world. Agriculture – one of the causes and victims of climate change – can also be one the best tools for climate protection.

The conference will try to answer the question, how farmers and food consumers around the world can protect climate and natural resources. The event will consist of two days: the first one will be the actual conference and on the second one there will be a study visit in the Mazovia region farms. 

The conference is directed especially at people interested in the issues of sustainable agriculture, rural communities development and the growth of food consumer movements and initiatives.

You can download the detailed conference programme on the left.