Continued population growth inadvertently results in an increase in consumption and demand for food. This means that there will be a significant increase in competition for land, water and energy which will paradoxically compromise our ability to produce enough food. This will also have a negative impact on the environment and in turn the global poor who are largely dependent upon ecosystem services. At the same time, climate change is posing a great threat to food security at a global and local scale. However, the demand for food can be met through agricultural practices that consider the environment as well as the socio-economic contexts to ensure sustainable and equitable food security.
Climate change is posing a great threat to food security at a global and local scale
How can this be done?
Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an apporach for shifting and reorganizing agricultural systems to support the sustainable and equitable production of food given the new realities of climate change. The objectives of CSA are to increase the resilience (adaptation) and production otput of farmers while reducing the impact of the process on the environment.
Why is CSA different?
Unlike previous approaches to agricultural production, CSA promotes an integrated approach to agricultural production at different levels (from farm-to-landscape level), whilst taking into consideration relevance at local and national level over varied time scales.
CSA promotes an integrated approach to agricultural production
CSA also promotes coordinated actions by farmers, researchers, private sector, civil society and policymakers towards climate-resilient pathways through four main action areas: (1) building evidence; (2) increasing local institutional effectiveness; (3) fostering coherence between climate and agricultural policies; and (4) linking climate and agricultural financing. CSA differs from ‘business-as-usual’ approaches by emphasizing flexibility while being cognizant of context specificity and needs whilst being supported by innovative policy and financing actions.
CSA in Africa
Agriculture remains important to the economy of most African countries. Its development has significant implications for food security and poverty reduction in the region.
CSA in Africa has been explored from different perspectives. For instance, Nick Kingsmill (Vivid Economics), Seth Shames (EcoAgriculture Partners) and our own Dr Mao Amis (African Centre for a Green Economy) met with officials at the Agriculture Ministry in Mozambique where they discussed various issues on how to scale up CSA in Mozambique, including its financing and the scaling up of training programmes. The trio are working on climate finance for CSA, education and information gathering. Dr Amis also visited Zambia where he witnessed innovative interventions which improved the quality and quantity of food yielded while possing less damage to the environment and improving the livelihoods of communities.
For Africa to benefit from the CSA approach, significant action needs to be taken to (see Williams et al, 2015)
- improve the evidence base for certain strategic choices
- improve the training and wider adotpion by farmers
- create conducive policies and institutional arrangements to support farmers
- enhance private and public investment
- apply and scale-out CSA from farm level to agricultural landscape level
- strengthen technical, analytical and implementation capacity
The ultimate goal of CSA in Africa is to reduce the costs to the environment that agriculture often entails whilst improving yields to enhance the livelihoods of the majority of the regions inhabitants.
Nikiwe Solomon is a reseach fellow with the African Centre for a Green Economy. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town where she looks at the Kuils River to better understand how the relationship between the river and people is shape each other. Her interests lie in explorign the human nature relationship in the context of interacting social, poltical and economic systems.