Farmers around the world are facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change and other environmental factors that are affecting agricultural productivity and livelihoods. Egypt in particular has a rich history of agriculture that dates back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, who developed a complex and sophisticated system of farming that relied on natural resources and ecosystems. Today, Egyptian farmers are facing new challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation, but they are also at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to these issues through the use of NBS.
NBS is a concept that involves using natural processes and ecosystems to provide essential services such as water purification, soil conservation, and flood control. NBS has been used to restore degraded land, protect wildlife habitats, and increase crop yields while reducing the use of harmful chemicals and other inputs.
Farmers are already using NBS to adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts. For example, in Indonesia, farmers are using agroforestry practices to protect their crops from extreme weather events like droughts and floods, as well as to provide shade and improve soil health. In Ghana, farmers are using conservation agriculture techniques like intercropping and cover cropping to reduce erosion, improve soil fertility, and increase resilience to drought.
NBS is a concept that involves using natural processes and ecosystems to provide essential services such as water purification, soil conservation, and flood control
Farmers in the Fayoum Oasis in Egypt have been using NBS to transform degraded wetlands into thriving agricultural hubs. They have restored native vegetation, constructed check dams to slow the flow of water, and used agroforestry practices to provide shade and reduce erosion. These practices have not only improved the livelihoods of local farmers but have also helped to restore important ecological functions like water filtration and carbon sequestration.
However, for NBS to be successful in the long term, it is essential to engage farmers as key stakeholders in policy and decision-making processes. Farmers need to be involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring of NBS projects, and they also need to be provided with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to adopt these practices on their own farms.
Women also play critical roles in nature-based solutions as women make up a significant portion of the global agricultural workforce, particularly in developing countries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), women are responsible for 45-80% of food production in developing countries. Despite their important contributions, women in agriculture face significant challenges, including discrimination, limited access to land and other resources, and limited access to education and training opportunities. Women farmers also often have limited access to credit, extension services, and markets, which can hinder their ability to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.
One way to achieve farmer engagement is through conferences, which can bring farmers together with policymakers, scientists, and other stakeholders to share knowledge and exchange ideas. These events can also serve as a platform for farmers to share their own experiences and innovations, which can inform the development of more effective and locally relevant NBS approaches.
With Mrs. Fatima Brijesh, Palestinian farmer at the Fourth Arab Water Conference
We can also learn from the ancient Egyptians and their agricultural practices. The ancient Egyptians had an intricate understanding of the natural world, and they developed farming practices that were deeply rooted in their relationship with the environment. They used innovative techniques like crop rotation, natural fertilizers, and irrigation systems that were sustainable and effective.
By studying the practices of the ancient Egyptians and adapting them to modern contexts, we can learn important lessons about the value of sustainable, nature-based approaches to farming. We can also recognize the important role that farmers play in shaping agricultural practices and policies, and we can work to engage them as key stakeholders in decision-making processes.
Farmers are at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation. Through the use of nature-based solutions and adaptation practices, farmers can increase their resilience to climate change impacts, while also contributing to the restoration and protection of natural ecosystems. Policymakers and development agencies need to engage farmers as key stakeholders and support them in adopting sustainable and climate-resilient farming practices, in order to ensure a more sustainable and secure future for agriculture and the planet.
Farmers are at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to the challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation
Moreover, farmers also need to be supported through training, education, and financial incentives to adopt sustainable and climate-resilient farming practices. Governments and development agencies need to prioritize investments in agriculture that support climate adaptation and NBS, and provide farmers with the necessary resources to implement these practices.
Engaging farmers in policy-making can be a challenging but essential process to ensure that their voices and perspectives are heard and considered. Here are the 5 Cs that policymakers can use to engage with farmers in the policy-making process:
- Consultations and Public Hearings: Policymakers can organize consultations and public hearings to engage farmers and other stakeholders in the policy-making process. This can involve inviting farmers to share their experiences and perspectives, and to provide feedback on proposed policies and regulations.
- Collaborative Innovation with Advisory Boards: Policymakers can establish farmer advisory boards that provide a formal mechanism for farmers to provide input and guidance on policy and regulatory issues. These boards can be composed of farmers from different regions and sectors, and can help to ensure that policies are grounded in the practical realities of farming.
- Farmer Cooperatives and Associations: Policymakers can work with farmer cooperatives and associations to ensure that their perspectives and needs are represented in policy-making. These organizations can also help to educate their members about policy issues and to advocate for their interests.
- Capacity Building and Training: Policymakers can provide capacity-building and training opportunities to farmers to ensure that they are informed and knowledgeable about policy issues. This can involve providing training on policy analysis and advocacy, or on the specific policy issues that affect their sector.
- Communication Tools: Policymakers can use events, conferences and digital communication tools like social media and online forums to engage with farmers and to facilitate dialogue on policy issues. This can provide an efficient and accessible way for farmers to share their perspectives and provide feedback on policy proposals.
In brief, nature-based solutions offer a promising approach to the challenges facing farmers today. By engaging farmers in policy and decision-making processes, we can work together to create a more sustainable and resilient future for agriculture. We can also learn from the practices of the ancient Egyptians and their deep understanding of the natural world, which can inform our efforts to develop effective and sustainable farming practices today.