Italian chef engaging to fight climate change
ROME -- Italian celebrity chef Carlo Cracco is cooperating with the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) Recipes for Change campaign to highlight the threats small scale farmers in developing countries are facing as a result of climate change.
The Masterchef Italy judge visited recently an IFAD-supported project in Kandal province in southern Cambodia, where soaring temperatures and unpredictable rains are putting rice production at risk.
Rice, which accounts for almost 80 percent of farmland in the province and is a staple food in most of Asia, is being affected by frequent droughts and damaging floods. While touring the area, local farmers told Cracco that they used to harvest rice twice a year but now it is only once.
“The situation has gotten much worse and if it carries on like this it will just get even harder for farmers here in Cambodia,” said Cracco. “If they can no longer produce rice, which is for them a staple, it threatens their life, their culture, their tradition.”
By introducing low-cost technology and more efficient farming practices, IFAD is helping more than 90,000 farmers in Cambodia build their resilience to climate change. For example, simple tools like mechanical seeders and drip-irrigation pipes help make the most out of available seeds, ensuring that they don't go wasted, that they are planted at the right distance, and that they receive the correct amount of water. Local farmers are also being encouraged to use manure from their pigs and cows to feed a biogas digester, which produces methane to replace firewood, as well as for fertilizer for their crop, while being trained on how to diversify their produce so that if one crop fails they do not go hungry.
“These practices are also improving incomes,” said IFAD’s Country Programme Officer, Meng Sakphouseth. “They have more assets, they earn more money, produce more crops and have a more diversified farming system, which helps them cope better with climate change such as droughts or floods.”
Cracco pointed out how important it is for local farmers to adapt to changing climate conditions and preserve resources. “What you have, you must cultivate, maintain and preserve over time, not let it get lost,” he said. “You don’t often value what you have. Only when it is lost do you say, gosh, it was better before. But by then it is too late.”
Cracco is one of the three judges of Masterchef Italy, presenter of Hell's Kitchen and chef and owner of Cracco restaurant, which has earned two Michelin stars and is listed as one of the fifty best restaurants in the world.
Cracco was in Cambodia to take part in filming a series called Recipes for Change, where top chefs travel to developing countries, prepare and cook foods that are being threatened by climate change, and show how IFAD is working with farmers to adapt to the very real impacts of climate change in their communities.