Climate-smart agriculture should be livelihood-smart too

Dec 03, 2011

Encouraging climate-smart agriculture can lead to climate change adaptation practices in a partnership where the farmer's needs are addressed.

"Climate-smart agriculture has the potential to increase sustainable productivity, increase the resilience of farming systems to and mitigate climate change through reductions and ," says Henry Neufeldt the lead expert on climate change at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Agroforestry – the growing of trees on farms – is one such climate-smart agricultural practice, and it has tremendous potential for both climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as providing a source of fuel, food, medicine and supplementing the diets of smallholder .

Tree-based farming systems need to be encouraged as part of a low carbon emissions development pathway and adaptation strategy. For example, in tropical forest margins, agroforestry has been used in several protected area landscape buffer zones and within conservation areas as one way of alleviating pressure on forests for timber, thereby reducing deforestation and the resultant loss of carbon sinks.

Drawing lessons from the Philippines, a newly released policy brief from the ASB Partnership shows that programmes to support such initiatives are more likely to succeed in areas that are already deforested or where remaining forests are effectively protected, and where farmers have secure land tenure.

However, agricultural methods that focus on climate change solely will not be as successful as methods that focus on improving farmer livelihoods. Food security is the central focus for many smallholder farmers. In her work, Tannis Thorlakson, a scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre discovered that smallholder farmers in western Kenya are aware that their climate-coping strategies are not sustainable because they are forced to rely on actions that have negative long-term repercussions. These include eating seeds reserved for planting, selling assets (livestock, tree poles, etc.) at below market value, or building up debt in order to survive. These are only short-term solutions to drought and poverty.

By 2050 approximately 70 percent more food will have to be produced to feed growing populations, particularly in developing countries. As climate change causes temperatures to rise and precipitation patterns to change, more weather extremes will potentially reduce global food production.

In Africa, where 80 percent of smallholder farmers own less than two hectares of land, there will be 1.2 billion more people to feed. Farmers will have to adapt to these changing conditions in order to feed this growing population.

"Our research shows that when farmers change their farming practices their returns are not immediate and in some cases there is a drop in income. For climate-smart agriculture to work there has to be incentive for farmers to change and maintain new production systems," says Neufeldt, speaking at the ongoing COP17 Climate Change Talks in Durban, South Africa.

"Climate-smart agriculture won't be effective unless it specifically targets food security and livelihoods. Farmers must have sufficient incentives to change the way they manage their production systems," says Neufeldt.

Sayon Kourouma, is a farmer from Guinea, West Africa, who has benefitted from an ICRAF partnership project for peanut tree farmers, that seeks to cater to household needs while improving the way in which local forests are managed.

"I am now earning four times as much as I made in the past," says,Sayon. "If my children are sick, I don't have to ask my husband for money, I can pay for medicines myself."

Other signs of her new-found prosperity include a cow and her mobile phone which she uses to transact business. To cater to her basic necessities, Sayon no longer relies on solutions that bring about deforestation. To her, climate-smart agriculture has helped her adapt to climate change while improving her living standards.

Small or micro-scale farming is the primary source of livelihood for over two-thirds of Africans. With this great number of farmers, climate change adaptation can be enhanced once the farmers have the right incentives to participate in climate-smart agriculture. Farmers in the Thorlakon study believe the most effective way to adapt to climate-related shocks is through improving their general standard of living.

In discussions about how to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change, it will be paramount to first focus on their short-term needs and find mutually beneficial methods that meet these needs and support the push towards adaptation.

Explore further: Scottish people most sceptical on fracking, survey shows

Provided by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

3 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Towards an efficient, effective and equitable REDD+

Dec 07, 2010

An exclusive focus on forests -- as opposed to the entire landscape -- could lead to inequitable and destructive outcomes for the poor in developing countries, said a Nairobi-based agroforestry research organization today.

UN calls for eco-friendly farming to boost yields

Jun 13, 2011

The United Nations food agency on Monday called for greater use of environmentally sustainable techniques by poor farmers in order to increase crop intensity to feed the world's growing population.

Recommended for you

Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer

2 hours ago

Earthworm presence in the soil increases crop yield, shows a new study that was published this week in Scientific Reports. "This is not unexpected," says Jan Willem van Groenigen, associate professor in the ...

A success in managed pressure drilling

2 hours ago

As one of BP's top 40 wells globally (and the only UK well qualifying for that category in 2012), the successful delivery of the Harding field's 'Producer North East 2a' well (referred to as PNE2a) was crucial to the business. ...

Passion for the natural world clears the waters

2 hours ago

A toxic legacy has hung over the picturesque northern NSW coastal hamlet of Urunga for almost 40 years. Although now obscured by dense vegetation, the forest of dead melaleuca trees at the edge of a wetland ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2011
Climate-smart agriculture should be livelihood-smart too


Mankind needs to be concerned about the environment, but government attempts to promote that message have failed miserably by resorting to unscientific propaganda and ignoring natural variations in Earth's heat source - the Sun:

1. "Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate", Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

2. "Living with the Stormy Star", National Geographic (2004)

http://ngm.nation...dex.html

3. "Earth's heat source - The Sun", Energy & Environ (2009)

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

4. "What is Wrong With the UN's IPCC?" (2011)

www.thegwpf.org/i...orms.pdf

5. "Origin and Evolution of Life", Journal of Modern Physics 2, 587-594 (2011)

http://dl.dropbox...5079.pdf

O. Manuel
http://myprofile....anuelo09