Day 1 | Dec 6   08.45 - 10.15

The Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance – a unique partnership and systemic approach to food insecurity and climate change in Africa

World Vision International

Smallholder farmers represent 80 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s farming population, and suffer disproportionately in the face of droughts, floods and other weather-related events. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition. These problems can only be solved through the widespread adoption of more resilient, productive, sustainable, equitable and increasingly efficient farming practices.

Adopting Climate-Smart Agriculture practices can reduce the risks faced by smallholder farmers, as well as mitigate the effects of extreme weather events on farms. Enhancing crop production through minimum tillage systems/conservation agriculture, evergreen agriculture and agroforestry systems, are key elements of the portfolio of CSA solutions. CSA offers a “triple win” for farmers:

  1. enhanced food security by sustainably increasing the reliability and productivity of agricultural livelihood activities;
  2. increased smallholder resilience and adaptation to the likely effects of climate change; and,
  3. where appropriate, and in the interest of smallholder farmers, reduced greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and improved carbon sequestration.

The Alliance will seek the best approaches to promote the resilience of African smallholder farmers, particularly women and vulnerable groups, focusing on methods to strengthen livelihoods, reduce inequities and increase the productivity and reliability of agricultural activities.

One example is Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). This low-cost land restoration technique is used to combat poverty and hunger amongst poor subsistence farmers by increasing food and timber production and resilience to climate extremes.

In practice, with farmers as agents of change, FMNR involves the systematic regrowth and management of trees and shrubs from felled tree stumps, sprouting root systems or seeds. The regrown trees and shrubs – integrated into crops and grazing pastures – help restore soil structure and fertility, inhibit erosion and soil moisture evaporation, rehabilitate springs and the water table, and increase biodiversity. Some tree species also impart nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil.

As a result, FMNR can double crop yields, provide building timber and firewood, fodder and shade for livestock, wild foods for nutrition and medication, and increased incomes and living standards for farming families and their communities. The innovativeness of FMNR lies in its simplicity, low/no cost and scalability. It is a technology embraced by the poorest farmers because all they need is already at their disposal and benefits begin from the first year.

The session described the uniqueness of the alliance in its approach to addressing food security issues in a changing climate in Africa. After a presentation of the topic, the floor was opened for a discussion involving both the panel and the audience.

Key questions addressed:

  1. What are the guiding principles of the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance?
  2. Why climate-smart agriculture and this unique partnership?
  3. What are the practical applications of Alliance on the ground?

Background reading:

FAO climate-smart agriculture sourcebook

Fact Sheet: How to do FMNR