Climate-Smart Agriculture: Yes, We Can

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!

  • Godwin Ade Tanda October 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I have the opinion that the results of agricultural research can push actors to develop an updated vision for optimal design of place-base agricultural strategies. “We all” (agriculture stakeholders) have to become innovative in our usual known concepts as well as approving new partnerships in our responses added to climate-smart agriculture, the quantum benefits of which is development (improved quality of life, and environmental sustainability). In an open and passionate feeling, agreements by speakers have to be accompanied by concrete, considerabale and fair support at the grassroots level. It is quite easy to make climate-smart agriculture happening in all corners of the world by matching funds with the requirements and capacities of grassroots organizations to take not just concrete actions in favour of grant objectives but also those that purposefully address the problems on the ground. Mindsets are changing and many new organizations with different strategies based on modern trends are emerging. Good lessons can be taken from traditional adaptation practices to build a better foundation towards taking on climate-smart agriculture. The Cameroon case of Savanna Gnetum (Eru) cultivation: You cannot plant Gnetum (Eru) if you do not do so in a forest or by planting trees on farm. This is integrated approach that highly considers adaptation and mitigation measures in agriculture to create employment, build carbon stocks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve nutrition, fight poverty, and secure food.