Local communities and effective adaptation strategies

Photo credit: CCAFS-CGIAR

Emergence of new diseases and pests for some crop varieties has affected farm productivity in Uganda. Photo: IITA

Drought and pest epidemics among top climate risks in rural Uganda

by Vivian Atakos and Maren Radeny (CCAFS East Africa)

The traditional coping strategies developed by local communities provide useful foundations for effective adaptation strategies.

nd e“We find it difficult to plan our farm activities; rainfall patterns are very variable and confusing. Dry spells are common during crop production seasons,” said farmers in rural Uganda, during a focus group discussion session convened by researchers to understand farmers’ perception of climatic trends and climate-related risks.

Smallholder farmers in Uganda face a wide range of agricultural production risks, with climate change and variability presenting new risks and vulnerabilities. Climate-related risks such as prolonged dry seasons have become more frequent and intense with negative impacts on agricultural livelihoods and food security.

A new working paper by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) assessed farmers’ perceptions of climate change and variability and analysed historical trends in temperature and rainfall in two rural districts of Uganda. The paper ‘Climatic trends, risk perceptions and coping strategies of smallholder farmers in rural Uganda’ (PDF) also identified the major climate-related risks affecting crop and livestock production and the existing innovative strategies for coping with and adapting to climate-related risks, with potential for upscaling in rural districts.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Climate change impacts and adaptation

Photo credit: DAPA-CIAT

Adaptation measures for especially maize, common beans, Arabica coffee, banana and finger millet are urgently needed in Africa to curb future negative climate impacts. Negative impacts on livestock are projected, though more research on livestock impacts and adaptation needed to pin down region-specific responses.

African crops and livestock in a changing climate

by Julian Ramirez-Villegas

Cross-posted from the CCAFS blog.

After some intense 5-6 years of CCAFS research and impact, a set of newly released CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Working Papers highlight both climate change impacts and opportunities for African crop and livestock production systems. The papers summarise science on climate change impacts and adaptation, and present new information specifically targeted to the 42th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA), held in Bonn at the beginning of June 2015.

West African countries will in particular see suitability for maize decrease, with production losses of up to 40%. Photo: J. Soares - http://dapa.ciat.cgiar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/16383112145_7fab36f666_o-600x444.jpg
West African countries will in particular see suitability for maize decrease, with production losses of up to 40%. Photo: J. Soares – http://dapa.ciat.cgiar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/16383112145_7fab36f666_o-600×444.jpg

Climate change and African crop production

The SBSTA crops paper (available here), produced in collaboration between CIAT and ILRI scientists, shows that, under our current emissions trajectory (RCP8.5, where global warming by the end of the 21st century is between 6-8 ºC), common bean, maize, banana and finger millet are projected to reduce their suitable areas significantly (30-50%) across the continent, and will need some kind of adaptation plan, or be replaced with other crops.

Read the full article: CIAT-DAPA

Conservation and care of crop diversity by women

Photo credit: Food Tank

Women farmers in the Andes play an important role in preserving crop diversity.

Women Farmers are Guardians of Crop Diversity in the Andes

Women farmers across the world play an important role in the conservation and care of crop diversity. The maintenance of crop diversity is central to food security, nutritional diversity, health, and cultural traditions for rural communities globally. In the Andean highlands, smallholder women farmers use local knowledge and skills transmitted through generations to select and conserve seeds of traditional crop varieties. Andean women farmers protect biodiversity through their seed saving practices, sustainable agricultural practices, and unique culinary uses of different crops.

The importance of biological diversity and crop genetic resources is fundamental to sustainable agricultural production, yet biodiversity loss is quickly accelerating due to factors such as social, agricultural, and cultural change. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 4, a recent report by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity states that the “wild relatives of domestic crop species are increasingly threatened by habitat fragmentation and climate change.” In addition, factors impacting the loss of crop diversity include land use changes, off-farm migration, market integration, cultural change, and population reduction in rural communities. In the presence of the growing loss of agrobiodiversity, women farmers’ conservation efforts on farm (in situ) are essential.

The Andes are home to incredible biodiversity where farmers have selected countless varieties of native crops—such as quinoa, maize, potatoes, oca, olluco, and mashua—adapted to heterogeneous environments with varied climates, soils, geography, and altitude. For instance, although often portrayed as a superfood with vast nutritional properties, most people only consume a few commercial varieties of quinoa, and are unaware of the hundreds of quinoa landraces of different sizes, colors, flavors, and textures selected by indigenous farmers.

Women farmers perform much of the family farm work and participate in the entire agricultural cycle, with particular attention to post-harvest and food preparation activities. The women use different criteria for harvested produce, and they manage and divide these according to their family needs. For example, when women separate and classify the potatoes, they categorize which potatoes will be used for seed, for immediate meals, for storage, and for processed foods.

The case study “Women Farmers and Andean Seeds” documents how Andean women in Peru use their traditional knowledge and skills to select and conserve biodiversity.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Reforestation in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, women find simple solutions to bring back trees

Originally posted on CIFOR’s Forests News

A simple fence that protects against grazing livestock and bush fires is all it’s taken to transform three hectares on Bertin Doamba’s farm in central Burkina Faso from denuded and degraded land into a bio-diverse little dryland forest.

The enclosure, which Doamba and his family established in 2009 with the support of the Burkinabe NGO Tiipaalga – or “New Tree” in the Moré language spoken in parts of Burkina Faso – has resulted in remarkable regeneration of soil, vegetation and ecosystem.

“It’s given me a new lease on life, even extended life for me,” says Doamba. “We even have our pharmacy in this enclosure, with all the medicinal plants.”

But that is just a tiny fraction of what this verdant mini-landscape affords the family.

The grasses that flourish in the enclosure provide fodder for the family’s cows, goats and sheep, and cash income when livestock are sold.

Read the full article: Global Landscape Forum


See the video:

Green Treasure of the Sahel


Breeding salt-tolerant plants

Photo credit: Nature World News

Certain grasses can be made more salt-tolerant, allowing us to use treated wastewater for it and save clean water for human use. (Photo : Flickr)

Drought: Saving Water with Plant Genetics, Breeding Salt Tolerance

By Catherine Arnold

As arid conditions increase in various parts of the nation and world, scientists focus are focusing on using drought-resistant plants and increasing the number of plants able to use treated wastewater that still contains salt. The less water for plants, the more clean water for humans.

Athletic fields and golf courses remain heavy users of water. Golf courses alone use approximately 750 billion gallons of water annually in arid regions. Most plants on the fields still cannot tolerate a lot of salt.

Researcher Stacy Bonos, at the Department of Plant Biology & Pathology at Rutgers University, and her team recently published their research on perennial ryegrass in Crop Science journal. They’ve found that perennial ryegrass is controlled by additive genetic effects rather than environmental effects, meaning that salt tolerance can be bred for.

Bonos’ research team measured salt tolerance using something called “visual percent green color”–the percentage of the plant that is green and actively growing, as compared to brown and therefore dying, according to a release.

They also conducted experiments to confirm salt tolerance, including looking at broad-sense heritability, according to a release. The latter showed that the trait for salt tolerance has more genetic components than environmental ones.

Read the full article: Nature World News