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NPT PrepCom Side Event: climate-smart agriculture through the use of nuclear technology
The IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation, jointly with the Department of Nuclear Applications organized an engaging side event on ‘climate smart agriculture supported by nuclear technologies’ on 10 May 2012, in connection with the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) Conference for the 2015 Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The side event presented ways nuclear technology can be utilized to improve agriculture practices around  the world. During  the event, Ms. Susanne Nebel, Programme Planning Officer from  the Department of  Technical Cooperation,   explained  the   concept   of   climate   smart
agriculture and the “triple wins” to be gained from it. Mr. Minh-Long Nguyen, Head of Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section, described how isotopic and other nuclear techniques can help Member States improve agricultural productivity whilst at the same time saving water and fertilizer usage.

Climate smart agriculture focuses on strengthening soil and plants’ resilience to climate change and variability, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farm lands, in addition to sustainably increasing agriculture productivity and income for farmers. This triple-win concept, contributing to security of food supply, climate change adaptation and mitigation goals, is an imperative of sustainable development. Moreover, it can be considered a means to enhancing food security, especially in relation to the Millennium Development Goal I – eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, while mitigating climate change.

The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, contributes to the development of climate smart agriculture via the application of nuclear science and technology. Through technical cooperation projects supporting climate smart agriculture, the IAEA helps to provide scientists and farmers with tools and expertise to obtain useful information on how to plan and manage agriculture more efficiently and wisely.

Nuclear techniques play an important and a unique role in supporting climate smart agriculture. Isotopic techniques provide information essential to developing strategies aimed at improving agricultural water and fertilizer use efficiency, as well as agriculture management practices, and hence provide solutions to mitigate the increasing water scarcity. With the help of these techniques it is possible to determine optimal irrigation schedules, as well as watering and fertilizer dosages to help farmers save scarce water resources while maximizing crop yields and thereby, improving sustainability of their livelihoods. Furthermore, isotopic techniques can identify and breed crop varieties tolerant to drought and salinity, thus, requiring less irrigation, saving water and reducing harvest losses.

It is predicted that climate change will affect agriculture through higher temperatures, greater crop water demand, more variable rainfall and extreme climate events such as heat waves, floods and droughts. Integrating nuclear techniques in the global initiative to promote climate smart agriculture can offer solutions to environmental degradation and provide advantages in efforts to achieve sustainable food security in the future.

The event was closed with a round of questions taken by the audience and addressed by the speakers.

Responsible/Contact: Department of Technical Cooperation | Last update: 10 Apr, 2015

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