To upscale climate-smart agriculture



Photo credit: Agroforestry World

A smallholder farm in Tanzania. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Todd Rosenstock

Connecting research, practice and policy to upscale climate-smart agriculture

A group of women in Kamotony area in Kenya were worried that they were unable to provide food for their children in the face of climate change impacts. They would ask themselves, “Sasa sisi tutafanya nini kutoka hali hii?” What can we do to emancipate ourselves from this situation?

Their situation is not unique.  Like most smallholder farmers in developing countries, they face the challenges of food insecurity, poverty, the degradation of local land and water resources, and increasing climatic variability. These farmers rely on agriculture for food and nutrition security, and income. Climate change is a threat to this very important source of their livelihoods.

“If agricultural systems are to meet the needs of these farmers, they must evolve in ways that lead to sustainable increases in food production and at the same time strengthen the resilience of farming communities and rural livelihoods,” said Janie Rioux of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “Bringing about this evolution involves introducing productive climate-resilient and low-emission agricultural practices in farmers’ fields and adopting a broad vision of agricultural development that directly connects farmers with policies and programmes that can provide them with suitable incentives to adopt new practices.”

The term ‘climate-smart agriculture’ describes the approach that aims to achieve global food security and chart a sustainable pathway for agricultural development in a changing climate. Climate-smart agriculture is intended to increase farm productivity in a sustainable manner, support smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change by building the resilience of agricultural livelihoods and ecosystems, and, wherever possible, to deliver the co-benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. On the ground, climate-smart agriculture is based on a mix of climate-resilient technologies and practices for integrated farming systems and landscape management.

The Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) Programme

FAO, with financial support from the Government of Finland, designed the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) Programme to expand this evidence base and build climate-smart agriculture readiness of smallholder farmers. A three-year pilot project was also established to demonstrate that ongoing agricultural development initiatives could bring co-benefits in terms of climate change adaptation and mitigation thereby increase the uptake of climate-smart agriculture at significantly larger scale. Implemented jointly with partners in Kenya and Tanzania, the pilots promoted integrated and diversified farming systems and agro-ecological principles. The pilot projects linked research activities, practical work in farmers’ fields and policy making at different levels to enhance the effectiveness of planning and programming for climate-smart agriculture on farms, throughout the landscape and at the national level.

Read the full article: Agroforestry World

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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