This is an abbreviated version of a post by Jeffrey Bretz on the Social Reporting Blog of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). He describes an “intense and lively discussion” about climate-smart agriculture at the Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair, held late last month at IFAD headquarters in Rome.
There was no consensus on exactly what climate smart agriculture is or should be. But boundaries seem to be forming. Most agreed that perhaps 80 percent of the concept consists of what we already know how to do (integrated pest management, organic and conservation agriculture, etc.). However, there’s a tricky and evasive 20 percent that is new – linked to emerging challenges brought about by climate change.
There was a consensus that climate-smart agriculture is strongly influencing agricultural research and development, presenting an opportunity to move towards a more integrated, cross-sectoral approach. Yes, mindsets are changing, but what’s missing is a global vision for agriculture, including the role of smallholders, into which climate-smart practices would fit. We need this!
Speakers also agreed that more must be done to make the transition to climate-smart agriculture happen: better assessment of farmers’ vulnerability; new policies that reward climate-smart practices; ICT solutions that better connect smallholder farmers to seasonal climate predictions and trends; better education and extensions services; easier access to new technologies like drought-tolerant seeds; and mainstreaming of climate-smart agriculture into agricultural and rural development, which is where the bulk of the funding will remain, despite new climate funds.
Perhaps, the strongest point of consensus was that farmers are natural adapters. But for most of them, climate change is happening too fast and creating too much unpredictability. Successful adaptation often involves traditional practices. The oases of the Maghreb are a case in point: Water is used efficiently, and livestock are integrated into cropping systems. Let’s not waste time or money reinventing the wheel!