On 2 December from 6:30pm-8pm there was an official side event organized by FAO on ‘Agrifood systems transformation to achieve triple wins: for people, for climate and for nature’.
After the speeches by the presidents of FAO and IFAD, there was a panel discussion. The Uruguay Minister of Finance spoke about the work her country is doing to reduce emissions intensities from cattle production and their innovative financing wherein they pay a lower interest rate if they meet their targets. The Egypt Minister for Water spoke of the importance of improving water efficiency but the unaffordability of many of those technologies for smallholder farmers. Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, then spoke on the needs of smallholder farmers especially regarding finance. [see tweets from AICCRA]
In the Q&A session, the last question was from someone affiliated with The Plant Based Treaty (https://plantbasedtreaty.org/) who questioned the Uruguay Minister on why they want to increase production when he said it is clear that the world needs to reduce animal production and move to plant based diets. When he finished his question/statement, there was applause from a small group of people in the room.
I spoke with him after the event finished and requested that when he makes such statements he specifies that such reduction be done in industrialized systems in the Global North. We had a conversation where we agreed on many points but he didn’t really accept the idea that for many places in Africa livestock production makes the most sense rather than shifting to growing crops.
Having a nuanced discussion is difficult. It takes time and emphathy. I don’t think I made much progress in changing his mind (can that really be done in one conversation), but I hope I gave him something to think about. I got his card so that I can share with him the new narrative for livestock in Africa once it’s ready.