WASHINGTON - Agricultural experts and scientists say it is important for people worldwide to engage in regenerative agriculture in order to boost crop and domestic animal production at a time the world is experiencing devastating effects of climate change.
These remarks were made at a one-day online educational seminar on regenerative agriculture, convened Thursday by the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States and PepsiCo.
The seminar, titled ‘Regenerative Agriculture: A Powerful Tool to Fight Climate Change’, highlighted the benefits of regenerative agriculture, which according to experts, promotes good environmental practices that reverse climate change by preserving the environment.
Speaking at the event, Jim Andrew, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for PepsiCo, pledged to support farmers worldwide engaged in regenerative agriculture.
“As PespiCo, we are working with over 60 countries in developing this concept across the world. Every farmer is different, every farmer is the same….They all work hard and till the land, sometimes under high risk with only one shot per year, but they need the right education and guidance … We are there to provide that.”
Dr. Abbey Wick, associate professor at North Dakota State University, who is also an extension soil-health specialist and founder of Wick Consulting, told seminar participants that farmers should work collectively in order to promote sustainable agriculture.
“When we start building networks for the adoption of this concept and good practices of agriculture, we should encourage farmers to believe in numbers because if more register and follow this concept, it will help the world to preserve nature and secure a good future for the next generations.”
Everson Ndlovu, an expert in agriculture, climate and disaster management at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe, says the southern African nation has been practicing regenerative agriculture for a long time.
“Regenerative agriculture is a climate-smart method of agriculture that uses conservative methods. In Zimbabwe we have named it Pfumvudza or Intwasa. The idea is to maximize the little water that we get, remember this is zero tillage and you only dig where you plant your seed.”
Devine Mafa, founder of Imbabwe Economic Movement, says regenerative agriculture plays a critical role in tackling climate change.
“Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to food and farming systems that focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting bio sequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.”
Tanya Sibanda, a Zimbabwean-born farmer in Maryland, says she is practicing regenerative agriculture.
“In a world where industrial farming that relies on toxic chemicals and heavy tillage is the standard, regenerative organic agriculture is a specialty form of production. I try to repurpose all the biodegradable kitchen sink scraps and compost it back into the soil. I have embraced the concept.”
Pepsi said it wanted more countries on board since a lot of low-income countries need a lot of support in developing the concept especially those with one cropping season.
In order to disseminate the information to a wider spectrum of farmers in developing nations, the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents said it invited journalists from different regions of the world to participate in the Thursday virtual seminar.
Although challenges remain in scaling up regenerative agriculture in the world, particularly in Africa, due to limited access to finance, lack of technical knowledge, and inadequate infrastructure, Pepsi, which says it’s thrust is to support 100 per cent organic farming globally, says it is willing to engage farmers to consider regenerative agriculture.
The global food and beverage giant announced in March that it generated more than $86 billion in net revenue last year.
It also announced “a $216 million multi-year investment in long-term, strategic partnership agreements with three of the most well-respected farmer-facing organizations – Practical Farmers of Iowa, Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, and the IL Corn Growers Association – to drive adoption of regenerative agriculture practices across the United States.
“The combined impact of these three strategic partnerships is expected to support the accelerated uptake of regenerative practices on more than three million acres and deliver approximately three million metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals by 2030,” said PepsCo in a statement.