The impact of the climatic phenomenon on agricultural systems would affect the growth, productivity and nutritional content of food.
The negative effects of climate change are becoming more evident every day and, unfortunately, they are expected to increase in the coming years. Agriculture is a key sector for the Chilean economy: more or less 31% of national companies are involved in this industry, which would be seriously affected by the transformations that the planet is undergoing.
Faced with complex events, such as the global financial crisis or the Covid-19 pandemic, agribusiness has shown greater resilience than other national industries. Given that it is an important source of income and employment -especially in rural areas-, the World Bank decided to dedicate one of its “Pieces for Development” to the sector, worked in partnership with DF.
The agency suggests that to maintain its leadership in international markets, Chile needs to adopt technologies that allow increasing the production and resilience of agribusiness, guaranteeing the sustainability of the soil and water resources.
Katie Kennedy Freeman, Senior Economist in Agriculture at the World Bank, recalls that the impact of climate change on agricultural systems would affect the growth, productivity and nutritional content of foods.
“These impacts will be felt in agricultural systems and in later stages of the food system,” he explains, and details that these are the processing, transportation, distribution and disposal of food products. The expert also warns that these effects will have “significant financial and nutritional costs.”
The analysis classifies the challenges facing Chile in terms of adaptation to climate vulnerability into three categories: there are environmental, risk management and market challenges.
The suggested route
Felipe Lizana, WB Agriculture consultant, explains that it is essential that the sector reduce its vulnerability to climate change, strengthen its resilience capacity and build new competitive bases to take advantage of market opportunities to produce food with low emissions and care for the resource. water and soil. All of this using Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) techniques.
When considering water and irrigation as the short-term challenge, the recommended actions are to promote investment and training in technified irrigation, hand in hand with increasing awareness about the current context of water deficit, and promoting information and transfer technology to water users.
It also aims to improve investment in small reservoirs, promote the infrastructure of rainwater capture systems, and increase investments in energy infrastructure associated with irrigation.
If these measures are not adopted, the entity warns that harvest and production could be reduced, which at the same time would imply lower income for farmers and an increase in unemployment.
To build resilience to climate change for small farmers and family farming, the WB urges to recognize the double contribution of associativity as a commercial and productive strategy, as well as an instrument to mitigate risks and overcome poverty. It also invites us to recognize multiple forms of association -as with indigenous communities-; and proposes to improve intersectoral coordination to support farmers’ associations.
If no action is taken, it is anticipated that the transaction cost could rise for individual farmers and that they would not have access to high-value chains.
In order to raise Chile’s position as a leader in low-emission agricultural production, it is invited to promote CSA technologies and Research and Development (R&D). It is also suggested to include “no-till” agriculture, the restoration of pastures, the planting of commercial forests, the fixation of biological nitrogen and the treatment of animal waste in agricultural production, as well as promoting the integration of crops, livestock and forestry.
Failure to do so could lead to the loss of access to high-value markets and the agricultural sector not contributing to the climate goals set by Chile.