According to Bill Gates in his latest blog (The Gates Notes, September 1, 2015), small farmers in developing countries will suffer most from climate change. Many of the tools, like improved seeds, are quite basic and common to farmers in the rich world. Yet, none of these innovations can transform the lives of farming families until they’re in their hands.
Gates writes: “for the world’s poorest farmers, life is a high-wire act—without safety nets. They don’t have access to improved seeds, fertilizer, irrigation systems, and other beneficial technologies, as farmers in rich countries do … Now, climate change is set to add a fresh layer of risk to their lives. Rising temperatures in the decades ahead will lead to major disruptions in agriculture, particularly in tropical zones. Crops won’t grow because of too little rain or too much rain. Pests will thrive in the warmer climate and destroy crops.”
Many of the tools they’ll need to adapt are quite basic—things that they need anyway to grow more food and earn more income: access to financing, better seeds, fertilizer, training and markets where they can sell what they grow … It’s quite common to see these farmers double or triple their harvests and their incomes when they have access to the advances farmers in the rich world take for granted.
Of course, there will also be threats from climate change that we can’t foresee. To be prepared, the world needs to accelerate research into seeds and supports for smallholder farmers. Still, it’s not enough to develop a better seed or a new technology. None of these innovations can transform the lives of farming families until they’re in their hands.
Read the full Gates Notes blog here