Scaling up climate smart agriculture – a farmer-led approach

Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)Organization: The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU)

Agricultural extension services are the vital link between government, research, and educational institutions and the farming communities that use the information they generate. Unfortunately, African extension services are often lacking the resources and connections to make them truly effective. SACAU proposes a farmer led, community based approach to bridge the information transfer gap.

What advantages might farmer led learning and exchanges have over government or institution based extension services? Do extension systems still have a role to play in supporting the adoption of climate smart farming practices, or are they more or less obsolete in the African context? Does the Lead Farmer approach really ensure bottom-up, demand-driven knowledge transfer? Share your views – join the discussion at the bottom of this page!

Live presentation



Synopsis: SACAU is working with other Farmers Organisations in Southern Africa to facilitate farmer led scaling up of promising Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices.  The weaknesses associated with government extension systems mean that farmers organisations and other non-state partners will have to play a more active role in taking CSA to farmers. The presentation will focus on such stakeholders can become more involved.

The Problem ↓

Weak agricultural extension systems in most African countries are a major threat to scaling up of promising CSA practices. Smallholder farmers are particularly at risk of being left out in the cold despite their overwhelming need for support to respond to climate change. The failing government based extension system is constrained by lack of funding, poor linkages with research, and ineffective delivery of messages to farmers.

The Solution ↓

  • Farmer based extension and knowledge sharing
  • Action research, learning by doing
  • Peer (farmer-to-farmer) learning and exchange
  • Farmer centered aggregation of services, technology, inputs, outputs

The Method ↓

SACAU is launching a farmer based program to support scaling up of CSA. The lead farmer approach will be used to anchor farmer managed demonstrations and pilots. Lead farmers will be supported as hubs for research, exposure, learning and exchange among farmers, as well as platforms for aggregation of services, technology, inputs and produce.

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