Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Climate Agreement and Agriculture

Everywhere you look in the media lately you see news on the new agreement coming out of Paris regarding climate change. This will no doubt have an impact on farmers and agriculture around the globe. Review the linked article and use the discussion points provided below to guide your conversations in your classrooms and communities around the world.

Can the Paris agreement protect farmers?

Discussion Points

  • What is the African farmer, Purity, doing to overcome and battle climate change on her farm?
  • What can agriculture success and improvement mean to small farm families in developing countries?
  • What are the expected ramifications of climate change on the Philippines in the coming years?
  • Traditionally why has agriculture been left out of climate negotiations? 
  • Why is the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) welcoming this recent agreement in Paris?
  • Why are small farmers (especially those in developing countries) more at risk to climate change than larger farmers (in developed countries)?
Additional challenge:
We often hear the doom and gloom projections of climate change and it's impact on agriculture and food production. On my recent trip to Nicaragua I was told that it is projected that by 2050 no coffee would be grown in the region I was visiting, that heavily relies on coffee production, due to a warming climate. I am an optimist. This statement is assuming that everything will stay constant and no change/adaptations will be made. My first thought is what can we do to change this trend? And this is my question for you to think about, discuss, and take action. What can we do to change this trend?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Discovering Nicaragua

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua to explore agriculture and life in Nicaragua. It was a quick trip with only two days in country, but a lot was accomplished and we look forward to returning with groups to learn more about agriculture in Nicaragua and some of the challenges they are facing. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with only Haiti coming in below them. Nicaragua is also the largest country, by land area, in Latin America, but is the least populated. It was also noted that Nicaragua is known as the safest country in Latin America. While Nicaragua is known as a poor country I was blown away by the beauty and lush landscape of this great country.

View from a coffee farm we visited in the providence of San Roman. 

I spent my first full day in country exploring the San Roman area which is a mountainous region. On our way to San Roman we passed many processing facilities for coffee and rice along with some tobacco farms. The major crops produced in the San Roman area are: corn, coffee, beans, cocoa, passion fruit, malanga, and vegetables. Beef cattle production is seen throughout the country. Climate change is a major challenge that Nicaraguan farmers are facing. I was able to visit with a foundation in the area that works with farmers to battle climate change and other challenges facing farmers. I, also, was fortunate enough to visit some local schools to see what is being done to improve young lives in Nicaragua. 

On our way to San Roman. I was impressed with much of the infrastructure in Nicaragua. 

We started our second full day in the San Roman area by visiting another organization working with farmers to introduce technology in solar power and irrigation. Soon after we made our way to the city of Leon. As we traveled from San Roman to Leon we left the mountainous areas to lower elevations of the flat lands. As we reached lower elevations we found a lot of rice, peanuts, sorghum, sugarcane, and chia being grown. Cattle production seemed to increase as well.  We enjoyed lunch in Leon before making our way to Los Alpes Ranch where we discussed agriculture and agricultural education in the region.

Active volcano Telica in the background of roaming cattle.

After our time at Los Alpes Ranch we returned to Leon where we met with a gentleman developing and engineering technology in renewable energy and food processing. Elmer shared his work in solar energy, wind energy, and stove technology. We then returned to Managua so I could catch a flight out the next morning. We look forward to returning to Nicaragua with a group to learn more about agriculture in Nicaragua. Thanks to our great hosts with Sister Communities of San Roman, Larry and Anjie. We look forward to our return. 

Elmer showing off his solar powered dehydrator for food preservation. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Climate Change is Here

Many have heard about the recent global talks on climate change that are taking place in Paris. In the past some have argued the validity of climate change and a warming planet, but as science has shown our world is warming and many are starting to take note. The linked article takes a look at how climate change is effecting food supply and chains around the globe. Use the discussion points provided to guide your conversations.

Big Food Feels the Threat of Climate Change

Discussion Points

  • How is climate change impacting farmers in the state of Vermont in the United States? How could this in-turn impact the consumer?
  • What is happening in Ethiopia in regards to climate change and farming?
  • How is Mars Inc., producer of candy, being effected by climate change?
  • Why is Mars not immediately concerned about the effects of climate change on production of chocolate, but more concerned for the farmers on a local level? What are they doing to help?
  • Why is it important that large companies are joining together and demanding something be done in regards to climate change?
  • Have you seen climate and weather pattern changes in your home area? If so, how has this affected agriculture? In not, why is this the case?