"Climate-smart agriculture has the potential to increase sustainable productivity, increase the resilience of farming systems to climate impacts and mitigate climate change through greenhouse gas emission reductions and carbon sequestration," 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 farmers.
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 climate change adaptation.
About the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is part of the alliance of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centres dedicated to generating and applying the best available knowledge to stimulate agricultural growth, raise farmers' incomes, and protect the environment.
ASB is the only global partnership devoted entirely to research on the tropical forest margins. ASB's goal is to raise productivity and income of rural households in the humid tropics without increasing deforestation or undermining essential environmental services.
Paul Stapleton | EurekAlert!
Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
06.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Can rice filter water from ag fields?
05.12.2018 | American Society of Agronomy
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals
Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.
Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.
Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...
Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.
The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Life Sciences
10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
10.12.2018 | Life Sciences