The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) is pleased to announce Cuba as our newest member country. This now raises the total membership to 65 countries.
As a signatory to the UNFCCC and having ratified the Paris Agreement, Cuba has a strong focus on climate change. The recent GHG inventory in 2016 highlighted how Agriculture, Forest and Other Land Use account for about 20% of the country’s GHG emissions. It is from this background that Cuba has decided to join the GRA.
The 65 member countries now participating in the activities of the Global Research Alliance are: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
On 7 May 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture Sri Lanka/National Institute of Postharvest Management along with University of Peradeniya held a virtual workshop on “Exploring the opportunities and challenges in addressing food losses and waste in Sri Lanka and their climate change impacts”. The Workshop was supported by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in support of the objectives of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.
Forty experts from academia, industry, and government agencies participated in the workshop (see Figure 1 for a breakdown of the participants). Speakers and participants discussed the progress of the on-going GRA-funded small project, “Strengthening Sri Lanka’s efforts to quantify and mitigate greenhouse gases related to postharvest losses” and explored ideas to develop a more extensive research programme to address food loss and waste issues in Sri Lanka and the broader aspects of climate change.
The Workshop found that the following issues need to be prioritised to address the food losses and waste issue in the country and the associated climate change impacts:
i. Robust data are crucial for estimating the greenhouse gases from the Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector and therefore to achieve the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Immediate action is required for improving greenhouse gas inventories for the agriculture sector. This may cover activities such as collecting activity data, developing country-specific emission factors, and building a data-sharing platform;
ii. Visualisation and traceability of the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains are key to identifying the economic, environmental, and social hotspots and to develop ways of addressing them;
iii. Coordinated efforts are critical to enhance productivity and address climate change. Most of the current initiatives are fragmented and they focus on particular elements of the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains rather than at the system level; and
iv. Capacity building is key. To achieve the above, Sri Lanka requires support in establishing an effective capacity building process that would address current and emerging gaps and needs.
Details of the discussions
Dr Chanjief Chandrakumar from MPI opened the Workshop, emphasising the role of the GRA in achieving food security and mitigating climate change – “bringing countries together to find ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gases”. He briefed on the continuing relationship with Sri Lanka – a GRA member since 2013, before moving into the details of the on-going GRA-funded small project, “Strengthening Sri Lanka’s efforts to quantify and mitigate greenhouse gases related to postharvest losses”. The collaborative project between the Ministry of Agriculture Sri Lanka/National Institute of Postharvest Management and University of Peradeniya project aims to quantify the postharvest losses in Sri Lankan banana supply chains and to estimate the associated greenhouse gases.
Mr Andrew Traveller, Deputy High Commissioner – New Zealand High Commission in Sri Lanka, addressed the workshop. In his speech, he highlighted the long-standing bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. He further emphasised that mitigating agricultural greenhouse gases is a priority for both island nations and New Zealand is committed to strengthening Sri Lanka’s efforts through providing technical expertise and implementing research and capability building programmes. Some of the current initiatives include the twining program between the University of Peradeniya and Massey University to upgrade the veterinary curriculum to global standards, dairy excellence training for dairy advisers, and dry zone smallholder dairy expansion to boost milk yield.
Prof Ajantha de Silva, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture in Sri Lanka, highlighted the extreme effects of climate change and their impact on the sustainability of the Sri Lankan agriculture sector. He highlighted the timeliness of the work on mitigating banana postharvest losses and their greenhouse gases in Sri Lanka and acknowledged the support from the GRA and the New Zealand Government.
A poll was used to obtain the participants’ views on postharvest losses specifically, and on the issue of food loss and waste in Sri Lanka broadly. The poll revealed that the experts are aware of the severity of the issue and emphasise the importance of developing and implementing effective research programmes and policy measures.
In a breakout session, participants were split in two groups. Group 1, led by Prof Palitha Weerakkody, discussed postharvest losses and current practices to reduce them. Key messages include:
- Some of the data gaps in the sour banana supply chain have been addressed through the on-going GRA funded small project. However, data gaps exist in supply chains for other banana varieties and other fresh fruit and vegetables.
- The economic impacts of implementing mitigation options are unknown – an economic analysis is critical to understand this aspect. This is highly relevant for export-oriented fresh produce.
- Existing studies, including this one, have not addressed the social aspects of the stakeholders in the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains. Efforts are required to investigate the social aspects such as ergonomics.
- Uptake of postharvest management practices is very slow in the country, despite a range of effective mitigation options already in existence.
- Value addition to traditional banana supply chains has not been much explored. Market exists for banana-based foods and beverages globally, but a market analysis is necessary to understand the local context.
- A life cycle thinking approach is critical in mitigating food losses and waste including postharvest losses – this requires addressing environmental impacts beyond climate change.
- Waste management and alternative uses of wastes (e.g. for industrial purposes) would contribute towards establishing circular economic systems – closing nutrient, resource, and economic cycles.
Group 2, led by Dr Asela Kulatunga, discussed the approaches to estimate the greenhouse gases associated with the losses and the existing challenges. Key messages include:
- Visibility and traceability of the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains are essential in addressing food losses and waste. They will help in identifying the hotspots and undertaking relevant interventions. This is however not straightforward and requires additional resources to map and redesign the current supply chains.
- Limitations in activity data and country-specific emission factors hinder the accurate estimation of greenhouse gases. Sri Lanka needs to prioritise improving their greenhouse gas inventories in order to achieve their NDCs. This may include compiling activity data, developing country-specific emission factors, using higher tier approaches for quantifying emissions, and establishing data sharing platforms;
- Although effective interventions have been proposed in the past to address postharvest losses, they were mostly unsuccessful due to reasons such as affordability, time requirement, manpower requirement, and poor understanding/communication. Capacity building and behavioural change are crucial in this context.
- Collaboration and coordination between different stakeholders are critical in addressing food losses and waste in Sri Lanka. This includes identifying opportunities to connect with relevant international and national initiatives/programmes, such as the #Nitrogen4NetZero initiative led by the UK and the Collaboration Initiative Food Loss and Waste led by Germany.
Finally, Dr Chandrakumar in closing remarks, summarised the key aspects discussed in the workshop and the opportunities for future collaboration.
Lessons learned and future activities needed
Food losses and waste is indeed an issue of great public concern in Sri Lanka. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects the increased awareness of this issue globally as well as nationally. Hence, more coordinated efforts are essential.
The ongoing GRA-funded small project has started to address some elements of the food losses and waste issue and the climate change impacts, by quantifying the banana postharvest losses and their associated greenhouse gases. However, wider efforts are critical to address this prominent issue.
Some of the identified key priorities include:
- Improving greenhouse gas inventories for the agriculture sector;
- Redesigning conventional fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains;
- Adopting circular food system approaches to close the nutrient and resource cycles;
- Establishing collaborations to develop effective mitigation solutions and policies; and
- Building national capacity to address current and emerging gaps and needs.
As the next step, the researchers leading the current banana postharvest losses project and the workshop participants propose undertaking a meta-analysis/stocktake to identify the gaps related to different aspects of the Sri Lankan fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains. This could be done with the involvement of the workshop participants. Once the gaps and priorities are identified, a more extensive research and capacity building programme will be developed with several work packages led by relevant field experts.
As part of the EU’s Green Week 2021, the University of Santiago de Compostela is pleased to announce an online workshop centring around Agroforestry, Bioeconomy and Green Deal. It will consist of a workshop, presentations on the role of agroforesty in various EU countries and a round table discussion. This session is scheduled for the 19th of May at 10:00am CEST. Further information and the registration link can be found below the infographic:
The first external call of the European EJP-Soils initiative is now open; funding has been made available to enable researchers from GRA members to take part. The call aims to foster holistic agricultural soil management practices – making a shift to diversify farming to include a variety of sustainable and environmental practices.
GRA funding can be sought for projects aligned to topics:
a) Understanding soil organic carbon sequestration (stabilisation, storage and persistence); and
c) Site-specific or landscape-scale approaches to improve sustainability, resilience, health, and productivity of soils
GRA funding is not eligible for topic B.
Other funders of this call are from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom. Further funders may also be added.
Further information can be found here
As announced at the GRA Council Meeting 2021, a new co-lead for the farm to regional scale integration network was found: The agri benchmark network of the Thünen Institute of Farm Economics (Germany). Our core competence is the farm-level analysis with regards to crop and livestock production systems and their economics. For further insights please have a look at the attachment.
The new co-leads Claus Deblitz, Yelto Zimmer and Nina Grassnick warmly invite you to a 90-minutes virtual kick-off meeting on 25th or 28th of May 2021. The exact date and time will be decided by April 30th once we know who is interested and available.
We aim to discuss the following topics at the meeting:
1. Brief Introduction of participants
2. Short presentation of the agri benchmark network and its current activities regarding climate mitigation measures at the farm level
3. Round trip among participants about your interests and expectations regarding the farm to regional scale network of GRA. In particular, we would love to learn about your view on these questions:
(a) Are you currently involved in research regarding farm-level strategies to mitigate GHG emissions?
(b) If yes, what systems and options do you analyze?
(c) Considering farm-level GHG mitigation strategies, what are in your opinion the most relevant topics for your country?
(d) Are you aware of other institutions in your home countries that are interested in this kind of farm-level based research?
(e) What are your expectations to us as the new leads of the network?
(f) Are you using or do you know methods and databases for upscaling farm-level data to regional level?
4. Possible funding of the network’s work
If you are interested to join the kick-off meeting, please send an e-mail to [email protected] by April 30th indicating your preferred meeting date (25th or 28th of May).
We are looking forward to meeting you virtually in May!
The farm to regional scale network team
The CABI Agriculture & Biosciences journal is requesting contributions to a special collection surrounding co-benefits and tradeoffs to food security from mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. Submissions close on the 30th of November. For further information please find attached the notice below, along with a link to CABI’s website:
The Information and Computational Sciences department in The James Hutton Institute at Aberdeen, Scotland, UK is looking for Life Cycle analyst (Tenure track position). The position is open to an experienced and creative GHG life cycle analyst (LCA) contributing to research and development in support of a net zero future. Working with other colleagues, you will be helping various organizations and business customers to meet the demands of the Paris Agreement and provide sustainable business solutions to enhance resource use efficiency and reduce risks associated with climate change.
To learn more and apply the job position for Life cycle analyst can be found here.
Closing date 8th April 2021.
The March 2021 Issue of Who’s Counting, the Inventories and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Support Network Newsletter is now available.
This issue features a CIRAD conference “Can albedo change offset the climate benefit of carbon sequestrating practices?”; a summary article on a decade of research to result in an improved UK Smart Agriculture Inventory; Activity data collection across 37 African Countries; Agriculture’s inclusion in the NDC’s of five African Countries; a summary of Ethiopia’s improved Tier 2 livestock inventory; an ICAT and GHGMI project to establish institutional arrangements and framework for the Fijian Agriculture Inventory and a number of resources, webinars and events. Read the newsletter to see other events and resources of relevance to your work.
We encourage you to directly submit content for the June 2021 Issue of Who’s Counting, or contact one of the Inventories and NDC Network co-leads directly. To receive future issues of this Newsletter subscribe here.
About 85% of Ethiopian population reside in rural regions with their livelihood entirely reliant on rain-fed agriculture and livestock production. Ethiopia has been submitting its greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and biennial update report to the Conference of the Parties (COP) since 2001. Of all sectors, the agriculture sector is the largest source of GHG emissions in Ethiopia, contributing 79% (115,466.7 Gg CO2e) of the total national emissions in 2013 using IPCC Tier 1 approach. Livestock production contributes 60% (69,334.5 Gg CO2e) of all agriculture sector emissions, due to enteric fermentation, manure management and emissions from manure deposited onto pasture by grazing livestock.
The recent inventory reports livestock emissions using a Tier 2 approach that better reflects change in both the structure of livestock populations, animal management and performance. The new approach includes emission of GHGs such as CH4 (due to enteric fermentation), CH4 and N2O (due to manure management), and direct/indirect N2O (due to livestock deposit of dung and urine in managed soil) estimated from dairy cattle, other cattle, sheep and goats.
Methane (CH4) emissions due to enteric fermentation increased from 1994 to 2018 because of increase in animal population, animal management and performance. Methane emissions from manure management increased from 1994 to 2018.
Direct and indirect nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions due to manure management increased significantly from 1994 to 2018. Overall, there was a significant increase of GHG emissions from livestock production of Ethiopia due to the increase of animal populations and production.
Thus, the new Tier 2 inventory more effectively captures the variation in livestock population and production which is vital for the future improvement of the national agriculture inventory.
My research aim is to investigate the impact of climate change, land use/land cover change and agricultural management on soil organic carbon stocks and to determine if the Anjeni watershed soils have acted as a net sink or net source for carbon over the past three decades, using the CQSTER and CENTURY models.
My research will consider methane and nitrous oxide emissions due to manure management and livestock dung deposited on pasture in the Anjeni watershed. Further, my research into whether the Anjeni watershed soil is the source of carbon emission due to the land use land cover change, agricultural management and climate changes will provide information valuable for emission analysis for the national livestock emission inventory.
Reference and further reading:
Wilkes A, Wassie SE, Tadesse M, Assefa B, Abu M, Ketema A, Solomon D. 2020. Inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, sheep and goats in Ethiopia (1994-2018) calculated using the IPCC Tier 2 approach. Environment and Climate Change Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
In order to explore the potential of circular food systems (CFS) as a way to contribute to food security while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Integrative Research Group (IRG) of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) has taken the lead to setup a global CFS network, where knowledge on CFS can be shared, developed and disseminated. The network aims to mobilise agricultural scientists working at field and farm level to explore circularity within agricultural systems focussing on GHG emissions. The results will provide practitioners, policy makers with the evidence-base of proven methodologies and system designs for climate smart actions.
The CFS network will start with developing an active international network and making an inventory of relevant aspects of circular food systems in divers regions. We therefore launch a kick-off workshop entitled ‘Circular Food Systems: regional opportunities to mitigate GHG’. As the definition and context of circularity and CFS may vary across regions, and different themes within circularity of agri-food systems can be explored, the main objective of the kick-off workshop is to find common ground and objectives from where the network can formulate activities and focus points.
For this, we would like to call upon your collaboration in this development process. The online kick-off workshop on the 22nd and 23rd of June aims to formulate:
- A common ground on the definition and diversity of circular food systems
- A workplan with (region-specific or thematic) research projects for 2021-2022
The common ground will be discussed and illuminated through presentations at this conference. These presentations will address the broad range of aspects of circular food systems across the globe.
Call for Abstracts
We now invite groups and individuals to submit an abstract about aspects of circular food systems of relevance for their country or region to mitigate GHG (see Annex 1 for background information on circular food systems). These abstracts should be submitted before April 30th 2021.
The organising committee will select 8 to 10 abstracts to invite for elaboration in 15-minute presentations during the kick-off workshop and associated short communications of 2500 words. Information about selection of the abstracts can be expected around May 3rd 2021. The short communications should be complemented with main research questions for developing knowledge on increasing understanding and/or advancing circularity in food systems in a specific global region.
During the kick-off workshop the presentations and short communications will be used as starting point to develop case studies together with interested parties wherein region-specific or thematic research questions and objectives are formulated. This could be short- or long-term studies. Please note that abstracts that were not selected for presentation, could still serve as valuable input for these case studies. In this way, the network is looking for a variety of ideas and regions where CFS research can be addressed.
The network has funding available to fund part of the case studies that will be developed during the workshop. Preference is given to case studies with co-financing and which have close collaboration with the policy arena.
Abstracts and short communications will be published in an open access publication about circular food systems and GHG mitigation.
Terms of Reference
Abstracts have a maximum of 500 words. Short communications have a maximum of 2500 words.
The abstract of max. 500 words should clearly indicate the region, the food system or elements thereof and the aspect(s) of circularity in the food system(s). Furthermore, it should include what key elements define the circularity of the system and how it contributes to mitigation of GHG emissions in the system. Circularity aspects potentially to be addressed are: closing nutrient cycles within agricultural systems, recycling of nutrients, upgrading by-products, the role of C-sequestration, role of livestock in circular food systems, rice farming, agricultural waste streams in value chains, living labs of circular food systems, crops in circular food systems and silvopastoral systems, circularity in relation to GHG accounting.
The GRA-IRG-CSF network will cover circularity in food systems all across the globe so representatives from all continents are requested to contribute. In this way, the variety of CFSs can be determined during the workshop and common objectives and collaboration between regions in the network’s research activities can be established.
The organising committee will select 8 to 10 presentations making sure that together they are covering all global regions, relevant food systems and circularity aspects. Formats for 15-minute presentations and short communications will be provided to the selected abstracts. See Table 1 for deadlines and activities.
Abstracts should be submitted no later than April 26, 2021, 10:00AM (CET), through: [email protected]
Table 1. Deadlines and activities for the first GRA-IRG-CFS conference
|Abstract for presentation and associated short communication||Abstract maximum 500 words. Should address relevant Circular Food System and GHG mitigation aspects for a global region or country||April 26th 2021 By e-mail to: [email protected]|
|Organising committee will select 8 to 10 abstracts for elaboration into a presentation||CFS core group will choose abstracts based on region and CFS-aspect||May 3rd 2021|
|Selected short communication to be submitted||Maximally 2500 words, no abstract.||June 8th 2021|
|First GRA-IRG-CFS workshop||Online, to be organised by the core group of GRA-IRG-CFS||June 22-23rd 2021|
Annex 1: Circular Food Systems background information
Food systems comprise all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding the human population: growing, harvesting, storing, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption and disposal of food and food-related waste streams. Such food system activities are driven by socio-economic and environmental drivers. Outcomes of a food system are food security and socio-economic and environmental outcomes. The interactions between these elements of a food system are depicted in Figure 1.
Circular food systems are food systems in which waste streams are minimized and inevitable waste is utilized in processes of production of food, energy or non-food products. Such circular food systems apply practices and technologies that minimize the input of finite resources (e.g. phosphate rock, fossil fuel and land), encourage the use of regenerative ones (e.g. wind and solar energy), prevent leakage of natural resources from the food system (e.g. nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P)), and stimulate recycling of inevitable resource losses in a way that adds the highest value to the food system (De Boer and Van Ittersum, 2018; Van Zanten et al., 2019).
An example of how circularity in food systems can be achieved was described by adhering to the following number of principles (De Boer and Van Ittersum, 2018; Van Zanten et al., 2019):
- Use arable land and water bodies primarily to produce food for direct human consumption.
- Avoid or minimize food losses and wastes.
- Recycle by-products (such as crop residues, co-products from processing, manure, excreta) and inevitable food losses and waste streams in the food system.
- Use animals for unlocking biomass unsuitable for human consumption into value food, manure and other ecosystem services.
These principles are indicative for strategic developments towards circularity and need operationalisation in local contexts. For instance, with respect to the 3rd principle, biomass in residues and waste streams may be used to improve soil quality or to feed livestock. Organic matter in such plant and animal residues, but also in waste produced further downstream in the food cycle may also be converted to valuable products such as bioplastics, protein, volatile fatty acids or other platform chemicals, or as organic soil amendments or as an energy source. Nutrients (both macro- and micro-nutrients) in the waste streams may be recovered and re-used in food production. De Boer and Van Ittersum (2018) suggested an order of prioritization for the use of biomass streams in circular food systems (i.e. plant production first, followed by soil quality improvement, animal feeding, and use as fertilizer and energy source; see Figure 2). The order of prioritization, however, depends on local contexts, and on prioritisation of higher level objectives e.g. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) vs food security. Also, the scale at which circularity is best operationalized is context specific and depends on objectives. Hence, the nexus of circularity, food security and greenhouse gas emission reduction is a complex playing field and it requires a broad representation of stakeholders to address. Dependent on local conditions and local policies the concept of circular food systems may be differently defined, and practices and outcomes may differ. There is a knowledge gap regarding the variety in concepts and practices that exists, possible synergies and trade-offs within the various concepts, and about strategies how to implement circular food systems.
This implies need for a science-based development of the concept of circularity in a wide variety of food systems across the world, fitting to local environmental and social conditions. But also the need for practical extension of these concepts in living labs as good practice hubs. Hence, global knowledge exchange is key, and collaboration between institutions globally with a focus on sustainable food security is essential to have impact on a larger scale. This requires a good governance, with different stakeholders come together. For it is not just about food, but also about health, ecosystems, international trade regimes, jobs and social security. The Circular Food Systems network within the Integrative Research Group of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases is established to develop knowledge, to facilitate application in living labs, to exchange knowledge and to take up the governance role.
Figure 2. The concept of circularity with priority given to animal feed use of biomass unsuited for direct human consumption, with secondary use for soil improvement and fertilization (Van Zanten et al., 2019).
De Boer, I.J.M. & Van Ittersum, M.K., 2018. Circularity in agricultural production. Mansholt lecture, 19 September 2018, Brussels, Wageningen University & Research, 71 pp. https://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/7/5/5/14119893-7258-45e6-b4d0-e514a8b6316a_Circularity-in-agricultural-production-20122018.pdf
Springmann, M. et al. 2018. Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature 562: 519-525
Van Berkum, S, Dengerink, J. and Ruben, R, 2018. Sustainable solutions for a sufficient supply of healthy food. Wageningen Economic Research, The Netherlands.
Van Zanten, H.H.E., Van Ittersum, M.K., De Boer, I.J.M., 2019. The role of farm animals in a circular food system. Global Food Security 21, 18-22.
The four ERA-NETs (European-led funding mechanisms) have announced that proposals are now being accepted for the 2021 co-fund in agricultural greenhouse gas research. In particular, the call is for research that aligns with the below brief:
“Circularity in mixed crops and livestock farming systems with emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation”.
This call aims to enhance circularity between these systems and thereby improve the sustainability of farms. Also, it is an opportunity for countries to participate within an EU-led initiative. Links to the four ERA-NETS where further information can be found and the form for submissions are located below.
Applications close on the 26th of May 2021, 3PM CEST
Established in 2007, the IPCC Scholarship Programme aims to support PhD students from developing countries whose research advances the understanding of the scientific basis of risks of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.
Applications are currently being accepted from PhD students that have been enrolled for a year or are undertaking post-doctoral research. Applicants should be from a developing country, and should ideally be conducting research in one of the following topics:
Living soils, biodiversity, regenerative viticulture, agroforestry, water management and terrestrial carbon cycle.
The scholarship award is for a maximum amount of €15,000 per year for up to two years during the period 2021-2023.
Applications close on the 28th of March 2021 at midnight CET. For further information and the application link, click the button below.