Speech/statement | Date: 17/02/2010
Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Transport, Respected Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, District Collectors, officials from the Planning Commission of the Government of Tamil Nadu, The Chairman of Sarawathy Farmers’ Training Centre, officials from TNAU,
Dear farmers, ladies and gentlemen
The average Norwegian farmer is a dairy producer whose main crop is grass for winterfodder for the cows and sheep. Grain farmers are a minority. They grow wheat, barley or oats - or they grow potatoes - and they harvest one crop a year. Norway lies in the far North of Europe and is a mountainous country – only 3% of its total area is suitable for tillage. In large parts of the country, the Summer Season is too short to grow crops at all. Large areas are forests and open rangelands which are important to farmers’ income.
All this is far from Tamil Nadu.
But both India and Norway face the multiple challenge of feeding a growing population under conditions of climate change - as does every country in the world. Many countries are already experiencing crop damage due to drought, floods and extreme weather events. The world population is expected to grow by 2.3 billion by 2050 and the FAO has calculated that agriculture needs to increase production by 70% to guarantee that everyone has enough to eat. We have to find solutions urgently.
In my view, the main instrument for global food security is the national food production. Every country has an obligation to provide food for its own population. Trade alone cannot solve the fundamental challenges regarding the rising hunger. In the future we have to use all land resources to produce food.
The related challenge of food insecurity and climate challenge means that we must produce more food in a sustainable and climate friendly way.
The Norwegian Parliament has recently approved a White Paper on Climate change and the linkage to Agriculture and Food production, entitled “Agriculture – a part of the solution”. That is why all farmers, in India and in the rest of the world, are the most important actors to find a solution for the climate challenge.
Among the range of measures addressed in the paper, I would like to highlight five key areas:
Firstly, the topsoil is one of the most important carbon sinks on earth. Soil resources must be managed in such a way that carbon sinks are not reduced.
Secondly, greater use can be made of forest resources as a climate policy instrument with a view to increase uptake of CO2.
Thirdly, there is great potential for delivering renewable energy based on biomass- timber and agricultural waste of biogas, including sound overall solutions for handling organic waste and animal manure.
Fourthly, with climate change there is an increased risk of new pests and new plant and animal diseases. The government will strengthen monitoring and make provisions for targeted research in this field.
My last point is biodiversity. We will need ecologically sustainable farming practices that maintain and support biological diversity. We will need new plant strains capable of coping with different growth conditions, higher temperatures, more - or less - rain, new diseases, etc. We will also need animals and production systems adapted to the changes
All this means that we need agricultural research and development within many disciplines. Norwegian farmers have a long tradition of communication and cooperation with researchers and agronomists in specifying their needs and transposing research results into sound practical measures. We will need to draw on this expertise in adapting to climate change.
Norway and India share a common interest to be equipped to face the serious issue of food security brought about by climate change. We need to cooperate and share experiences of workable solutions. We need to promote dialogue between farmers, researchers and all the other stakeholders in order to have environmentally sustainable technology that can produce flexible measures for climate adaption to meet the needs of the farmers under different local conditions.
From what I have seen the past two days, I think ClimaRice is a good example of how this can be done. I have been warmly received by of farmers, women’s groups, technical officers and other stakeholders. Their enthusiastic engagement is a key to success for the projects. I salute in particular the role of the women. Without women, no agriculture. Without women these projects cannot succeed.
You have an ongoing dialogue between farmers and researchers, womens’ group and other stakeholders. You have implementation of new technology that can raise the income of farmers, reduce the use of water and can lead to reduced use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and substitute ecologically sustainable practices based on local biodiversity.
I am now preparing a new White Paper on Agricultural Policy for Norway. This will include an international policy section where international cooperation on the issue of climate change and food security will be an important theme for discussion. The experience you are gaining here in Tamil Nadu is important for this work and what I have seen and been told in the past two days will certainly be brought into this discussion.
I am glad to see that the work of ClimaRice will continue, I hope even larger numbers will be recruited to this important work and I will follow your future achievements with great interest.
I wish ClimaRice, the cooperation with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and Bioforsk, and all stakeholders success.
Particularly, I wish that all the farmers I have met here today - and yesterday - may prosper. And I am sure that the farmers of Norway would join me in doing so.