While agriculture may seem less important than other sectors in terms of its overall contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, this might not necessarily be the case.
Agriculture is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after energy production, but gets far less attention than fossil fuels as a potential way to mitigate the threat of climate change.
This is according to Ambassador Rawle Lucas, Executive Director for Global Economic Cooperation, Trade and Investment at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Lucas told a climate change workshop sponsored by the United States National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Support Programme on Saturday that agriculture was important not only because of the potential to reduce its own emissions, but because of its potential to reduce net emissions from other sectors.
The Ministry official said that agriculture could take carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere and store it as carbon in plants and soils.
Climate-smart agriculture, according to him, is recognition that Guyana has the core competency in food production, but it is also recognition that agriculture affected climate change in a major way.
“Globally, agriculture is considered major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that agriculture accounts for 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions,” he pointed out.
Studies have shown that increases in temperature and precipitation will adversely affect productivity of crops. Most recent studies have shown too that there is a high degree of uncertainty of pattern and potential magnitude of precipitation changes.
“With agriculture contributing to high levels of greenhouse gases, Guyana recognises the need to use low-carbon systems of production. Guyana must, therefore, look for new technologies and production methods which will enable it to maintain its advantage in food production.”
Climate change policy shapers have long suggested that farmers widely adopt the best management techniques to store carbon, and undertake cost-effective reductions in nitrous oxide and methane.
With technological advances, biofuels could displace a significant fraction of fossil fuels and thereby reduce current emissions in the Americas. Using biomass to produce transportation fuels could also significantly reduce reliance on imported petroleum.
Lucas said Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy has also highlighted already the importance of the link between economic activity and climate change. The need for water resource management is linked to economic activity in Guyana, particularly to those in mining, manufacturing and agriculture.
“There is concern that the freshwater resources increasingly will become polluted as the mining and industrial base of the country expands. If Guyana does not undertake proper water resource management, the water stress level will increase and this will lead to loss in freshwater system,” he added.
As a result of its linkage to land use, forestry water resource management must be considered in a wider context – protecting, restoring and preserving use of Guyana’s terrestrial eco-system, Lucas opined.
“Guyana’s focus in this area should be both the threat and opportunities that arise from this sphere of environmental concern, particularly since Guyana intends to remain a major food producer and exporter.”