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After COP 17 - what is the future for the agricultural sector?

 “The results of increasing harmful emissions in the world is on-going changes in the worlds weather, which not only bring on environmental disasters, but also effect food security through dramatically changing climates effecting agricultural practices around the world,” says Frank.

However, waiting for governments around the world to finally come to a consensus may take till 2015 and their decisions will only be implemented by 2020 or later. Meanwhile, harmful emissions continue to affect the world’s weather and agriculture. 

 “This represents not only an opportunity to contribute to effective environmental sustainability but also the opportunity to capitalise on the effects of climate change and population growth. South Africa has vast tracts of underutilised arable land, as well as huge expanses of underperforming farmlands. With the right expertise and products, much of this land can be enhanced to provide both higher yields with improved sustainability.”

 “Previously, the injudicious use of fertilizers and pesticides has been practiced in order to increase crop yields which is natural for farmers to want to do. However, there is a price to pay, as they destroy the natural soil composition as well as ‘good’ and beneficial sets of microbiology in the environment. These practices are now regularly being shown over time to degrade soils and cause fertility loss. With the right soil management, fertilizers and chemicals that have been tailor made to the soils specific requirements, you can both increase yields and preserve the soil fertility.”

 With many countries refusing to sign up to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol (an international agreement signed in 1997 setting targets for industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions) which ends on 31 December 2012, many feel that a solution looks further away than ever.

 However the positive side to this is that COP 17 has resulted in agreement between all countries including China and the USA to create a working protocol by no later than 2015 and to have it implemented by 2020. This does not equate to action on any of the delegates part, but it is a start and a result that was unachievable in the last two COP meetings in Copenhagen and Cancun. The new protocol is to be a ‘legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force’. The hope is that this ‘legal instrument applicable to all parties’ will lead to the necessary climate change protocols finally being implemented.

 “It’s crucial to have the knowledge and expertise available to analyse and understand land use. This enables one to develop a programme of land cultivation, which results in higher yields and better sustainability with less fertiliser. Programmes have to be specifically tailored to each area of a land’s unique requirements. There is no ‘one solution fits all’ to the problem,” says Winder.

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