By RACHEL LANE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After three years of conversations, the Pathways Report has been released. This is the result of work by Solutions From the Land, an organization focused on bringing ranchers, farmers and foresters from around the world together to discuss how agriculture can create sustainable solutions.
The report addresses issues such as how to feed a growing population and how farmers can affect climate change, economic development and biodiversity conservation.
“We know we need to produce the food, fiber and energy needs of the planet. We know the population is growing,” said A.G. Kawamura, co-chair of Solutions From the Land. He’s a specialty crop grower and shipper in California.
In addition to increased population, there are more restrictions on the land and less of it available for agricultural use, but even in suburban areas there is a need for agriculture, Kawamura said. He lives and farms within an hour of 20 million people; he said he knows he needs to respect their needs of the land, but they also need to respect the farmer’s need.
To help make farms and ranches more productive, Kawamura believes the word “waste” will become a term of the past in terms of farming because in the 21st century, everything will be reused.
One of the problems agriculture faces is that farming is also an activity of the past, but all areas of agriculture are moving forward. “Productivity needs to be increased in ways that allow landscapes to provide the full range of what we need,” Kawamura said.
One of the first things that needs to change, according to what Solutions From the Land helped address, is to stop viewing agriculture as a regional issue and start viewing it on a global scale. There has been a lack of investment in new technologies in agriculture. When this limited investment is considered beside the regional view of agriculture, ideas to improve productivity are not being shared or are being repeated in different areas of the world, slowing the process.
“When our early adapters and early adopters are not being supported – in fact, are being stymied and shuffled and shut down – that’s a big problem for us,” Kawamura said.
He said if everyone can work together, invest in the world into a system that works better in the future, the world will be able to feed every one of the nine billion people expected to be on the planet in 2050. “This (report) is not a finished product … We’ve created a framework for the future,” he added.
He hopes to continue speaking with other shareholders to continue improving the report.
Tom Lovejoy, co-chair of Solutions From the Land and the Biodiversity chair for H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, said the report came together successfully – but it is just the beginning.
One of the concerns addressed is climate change. A 2-degree increase in global temperatures can have a really big impact on some ecosystems, he said. While climate change has many details, in the end, it is pretty simple, he said: “Climate change is driven by greenhouse gasses.”
In the past 100 years, the world has been burning much of the productivity of the planet, many of its fossil fuels. It has degraded the ecosystems, Lovejoy said. Everyone needs to try to restore the balance, which will provide better grazing for animals, and restore carbon to the soil, which will improve production of crops.
“This is a future of abundance, not scarcity,” Kawamura added.
The complete 45-page report can be read online at the Solutions From the Land webpage, www.sfldialogue.net
The completion of the report was announced during the March Farm Foundation Forum in Washington, D.C. The complete forum can be heard online at www.farmfoundation.org