During our event on the need for climate resilient food systems, we highlighted examples from science and industry and talked about the role of different stakeholders in the food system to increase resilience. With a topic as complex as this, two hours were not enough to answer all participants’ questions. Thankfully, guest speakers Fabrizio Arigoni and Johan Six have since taken the time to answer a few of them in writing.

Did we paint ourselves in a corner with fertilizers & pesticides (i.e. increased plants yields vs. destabilizing impacts on climate & water)?

Fabrizio Arigoni: My personal opinion is that we need to rethink the way that farms are managed by integrating aspects that go beyond  yield such as environmental impact, water management, biodiversity and carbon footprint. I believe this has started already and that we are entering a transition phase where we need to scale up in a way that is profitable for farmers and beneficial for the consumers and the planet.

How long have farmers been in the certification of biological systems? Do transition phases matter here? 

Johan Six: 2-10 years. Yes – they must be pesticide free for a conversion period before certification.

How can we increase biodiversity & pollinators on sites?

Fabrizio Arigoni: I am not a specialist on this topic and I am not sure what is meant by “sites”. Biodiversity can be increased by moving from mono-culture farming to culture rotation & intercropping. There are many agriculture practices that help increasing biodiversity in ways that are sustainable for farmers. On a more anecdotal side, we started partnering with local beekeepers to install beehives on some of our sites. Beyond the interest of employees who strongly engage into such initiatives, I believe that by doing so, we can contribute to increasing pollinators, albeit very locally.

Did the results you found in Ghana have practical consequences for the farmers? 

Johan Six: The results have been/continue to be disseminated to various actors engaged with both certification and sustainability programs, hopefully this will inform the design of future intervention efforts to some extent.

Systemic challenge requires systemic approach. Is the industry ready for new business models i.e partnering up with some direct competitors?

Fabrizio Arigoni: When it comes to such important challenges such as the environment and climate change I believe it is important that industries join together to address them. One recent example is an initiative led by CIRAD in France in which several coffee industry leaders partnered to reduce pesticides in coffee farming. You can find more information here: CIRAD partners with industry leaders to reduce pesticide use in coffee farming – Global Coffee Report (gcrmag.com)