Agricultural production systems should achieve the following:
- Provide adequate food and nutritional requirements
- Provide sufficient income for farmers to sustain a comfortable standard of living
- Protect ecosystems both not and for future generations including coping with changing weather patterns
There are many aspects to agricultural resilience. The EC's concept of resilience is defined as:
"the ability of an individual, a household, a community or a region to withstand, to adapt and to quickly recover from stresses and shocks"
When looking at how this applies to agriculture, it is a unique combination of the resilience of:
- the individual farmer
- the business (economics)
- the natural environment
- the on-farm enterprises
- the on-farm resources
- AND how they all interact with each other
Resilience can be thought of as an incremental process, and as an overall outcome.
The future may involve changing ways of thinking of agriculture from one of relative stability to one that is resistant to fluctuations in weather patterns and input prices.
Being resilient in the short term does not ensure there is resilience in the long run.
You can think of resilience in this context as being about 'future proofing' – adopting an holistic approach and seeking to secure a business, community or individual, more resistant to outside pressures and changes.
The most obvious example is energy supplies; the over reliance on imported fuel from parts of the world which are unstable and pose risks to long term supplies, but the concept is much broader and applicable to almost every part of a typical farm's daily routine. Put simply, do you have a strategy for dealing with foreseeable future shocks and changes which will insulate you against them?
Resilience in relation to climate change
The impacts of Climate change are already starting to be felt in relation to farming practices and the natural environment.
It is necessary for farmers to understand the potential impact of climate change on their holdings so enabling them to plan for climate change and adapt appropriately with consideration for potential impacts on the natural environment and farming systems.
Creating resilient agricultural systems is vital to feed a growing global population in a nutritionally sufficient way. Extreme weather conditions are likely to be the norm and weaken existing agricultural systems. Intensification is likely to be a common future for agriculture but it does not have to be done at the expense of ensuring sustained management of finite and vital natural resources (including soil and water).
Global agricultural systems will remain diverse and this diversity will ensure greater resilience. Sharing of best practice, technology and innovation will lead to building global resilience that can span nations and sustain farming businesses and natural resourcesfor the future.