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World Bank sees gains for climate and economy if ag policies are revised

If governments encourage climate-smart farming, they would see an increase in agricultural productivity and a sizable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by agriculture, said a report by the World Bank and the IFPRI think tank on Wednesday. The report advocates a “repurposing” of agriculture policies and subsidies.

“Agricultural policies and public support programs are ripe for change,” said Martien van Nieuwkoop, director of the World Bank’s Agriculture and Food Global Practice. “Policymakers are well placed to scrutinize and rethink current policies and programs to better benefit farmers, increase food security, build resilience in the face of climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The most effective repurposing, said the World Bank, would require government incentives and investment in technologies that reduce emissions and increase productivity to meet the rising global demand for food. “These technologies include feed supplements that reduce livestock emissions while increasing productivity, and rice production systems that use less water and produce less methane — without compromising farmers’ incomes and yields,” said a World Bank release.

By making the recommended changes, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could be cut by more than 40%, 105 million hectares of agricultural land could be restored to natural habitats, and the costs of healthy foods would be reduced, said the report. The undertaking would include aid to low- and middle-income nations so they could afford to review their policies and prioritize green investments.

The report, “Repurposing Agricultural Policies and Support,” is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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