Smallholder farmers in Africa and climate change



Innovative climate change partnerships bring hope for smallholder farmers in Africa

Vivian Atakos, Vanessa Meadu and Catherine Mungai (CCAFS East Africa)

Report back from Farmers Day at the UN Climate Change Conference.

If the music changes, you must change the dance steps. So goes a popular proverb from West Africa. This has been the realization of Kisilu Musya, a small scale farmer from the Eastern part of Kenya, a semi-arid region experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change.

Kisilu remembers well his farming system 15 years ago.“The rains were plenty. I grew local maize varieties every season and received a bumper harvest each time,” he told the audience at a side event organized by the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance on 2 December in Paris. However, with a changing climate, he noted that over a period of time local maize varieties no longer gave good yields. He was struggling to feed his family of nine children and wife Christina. Subsequently, he joined a farmer field school operating in his village where he amassed knowledge on new farming methods and accessed drought-tolerant seed varieties. Now a research farmer, Kisilu tries out new crop varieties, determining which ones yield best before sharing lessons with his community. His main concern, however, is the need for long term solutions: where crops, trees and cattle work together to form a sustainable and long term circle of produce.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Orphan crops to sustain smallholder farmers (New Agriculturist)

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Focus on… Neglected and underutilised species

Variety is said to be the spice of life and to make our lives more interesting. And yet, worldwide, a significant proportion of the global treasure chest of plant biodiversity is disappearing; FAO reports that approximately 75 per cent of the Earth’s plant genetic resources are already extinct. By 2050, another third of plant species is expected to disappear. These undervalued wild and cultivated species hold the keys to our future with genes that provide resilience to changing climatic conditions and greater nutritional characteristics than our key staples (maize, rice, wheat). And yet a greater research and development focus on neglected and underutilised species (NUS), also known as orphan crops, would help to sustain smallholder farmers and provide improved livelihoods, income and health for their families.


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