Chinese, African experts call for adoption of nature-positive food systems

NAIROBI, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Large-scale adoption of nature-positive food production systems will be key to tackling the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, Chinese and African experts said Wednesday.

The experts said at a virtual forum that a shift from chemical-intensive to eco-friendly agricultural systems could be the answer to habitat loss, rampant pollution and climatic stresses blighting communities in the global south.

Zhu Chunquan, head of the Nature Initiatives China at the World Economic Forum, said planetary health will be sustained once food production systems are aligned with enhanced protection of vital ecosystems like forests and freshwater bodies.

According to Zhu, mechanized farming is partly linked to deforestation, invasive species, and pollution of soil and watersheds, hence the need for alternatives that are nature-positive and resilient to the negative impacts of climate change.

Convened jointly by African Civil Society Organizations Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA) and China Civil Society Alliance for Biodiversity Conservation (CSABC), the webinar featured the theme "protecting agricultural biodiversity and constructing scientific food system security."

Zhu stressed that consumption of diets that are more organic, a shift to regenerative farming and greening of global food supply chains could aid efforts to conserve planetary resources.

Research and Advocacy Officer Linzi Lewis at the African Center for Biodiversity (ACB) said that agricultural value chains from production, storage, distribution and consumption should be aligned with green ethos, to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and harm to habitats.

Lewis said that a policy shift was imperative to encourage farmers to engage in mixed cropping, agroforestry and conservation of fragile habitats to boost food security and climate resilience at the grassroots while stressing that seed sovereignty for subsistence farmers in the global south combined with the use of biological methods of fighting crop pests and diseases have the potential to alleviate hunger, malnutrition and habitat degradation.

Jiang Gaoming, a researcher with the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, emphasized that empowering local farmers will be key to ensuring food systems are nature-positive and resilient to the escalating climate crisis.

Jiang added that the adoption of eco-friendly farming methods will also minimize environmental pollution besides taming the growing burden of non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Fred Kumah, the vice president of Global Leadership at the Nairobi-based African Wildlife Foundation, stressed that respecting genetic diversity and allowing local farmers to have control over seeds will enhance the resilience of food systems in the face of climate change.

Editor: Su Dan
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