One of the major and trendy topics in the world right now is climate change, as much as we can see with our eye, scientist have predicted so much for us and even warned us of how well we should be mindful of climate change. Climate change is far beyond what we talk about, it is an evolution Africans are not fully ready for at any step of the way.
Recently, I was invited to speak on a Nigerian television platform about this same topic and I was asked if climate change is really a reality at all and I smiled and asked the interviewer back: do you struggle to eat like this last year? Farmers are battling silently with climate change and do you know the funniest part? A lot of local farmers don’t know what they are in war with, they don’t know about climate change, they are ignorant and they are not fully educated to combat the issues practically on the farm.
Climate change is the change in the atmospheric condition of a place over a long period of time, it occurs gradually for a long period of time. We can also see it as a change in global or regional climate patterns. This also include both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large scale shift in weather patterns.
People often use the term global warming and climate change interchangeably, let me sharply differentiate between global warming and climate change. Global warning was defined by the USGS as the rise in global temperature due to increase in concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while climate change is the increase in the measure of climate over a long period of time and this could mean change in wind patterns over a long time, change in precipitation over a long time among many others.
Climate smart agriculture is the approach or system that help to adapt or guide actions needed to transform agricultural systems so that it can effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate. It helps to develop different strategies that helps agricultural stakeholders adapt to climate change. Different communities have different climatic conditions which must be approached differently.
Let us take a look at the three pillars of climate smart agriculture:
- Adaptation: Climate Smart Agriculture aims to reduce the exposure of local farmers to short-term risks, while also strengthening their resilience and ability by building their capacity and capability to adapt in the face of shocks and longer-term stresses. Particular attention is given to protecting the ecosystem maintaining services which ecosystems provide to farmers and others. These services are essential for productivity and our ability to adapt to climate changes.
- Productivity: Climate Smart Agriculture aims to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes from crops, livestock and fish, without having a negative impact on the environment and while maintaining a green economy. This, in turn, will raise food and nutritional security.
- Mitigation: Climate Smart Agriculture should help to reduce or remove greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This implies that we reduce emissions for each calorie or kilo of food, fiber and fuel that we produce. That we avoid deforestation from agriculture. And that we manage soils and trees in ways that maximizes their potential to acts as carbon sinks and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
Characteristics of climate smart agriculture practices
Contrary to conventional agricultural development, climate smart agriculture strategically integrates change in climate into the planning and sustainable agricultural development systems.
Climate smart agriculture engages women and marginalized groups: To national food security goals and enhance resilience, climate smart agriculture practices must involve the poorest, fragile and most vulnerable groups. These groups often live on marginal lands which are most vulnerable to climate events like drought, erosion and floods. They are most likely to be affected by climate change. Gender notification is another central aspect of climate smart agriculture. Women typically have less access and legal right to the land which they farm especially in Africa, or to other productive and economic resources which could help build their adaptive capacity to cope with events like droughts and floods. Climate smart agriculture strives to involve all local, regional and national stakeholders in decision-making. Only by doing so, is it possible to identify the most appropriate interventions and form the partnerships and alliances needed to enable sustainable development.
Climate Smart Agriculture is context and area specific: What is climate-smart in place A may not be climate-smart in place B, and no interventions are climate-smart everywhere or every time. Interventions must take into account how different elements interact at the landscape level, within or among ecosystems and as a part of different institutional arrangements and political realities. The fact that Climate Smart Agriculture often strives to reach multiple objectives at the system level makes it particularly difficult to transfer experiences from one context to another. The approach used in place where drought is their major problem may not be needed in places where floods is their major problem.
Examples of specific Climate Smart Agriculture interventions include:
Soil management, drought-tolerant maize, dairy development, farming catfish intensively, carbon finance to restore crop fields, waste-reducing rice thresher, rainfall forecasts and incentive system for low-carbon agriculture. All this are developed variety of crops and livestock that can either get adapted to old ways of how things are done or how things should be done so as to ensure efficient food production.
Insufficient precipitation: High sun intensity, pest infestation (Army worm) climate smart option for this include high tech irrigation, drip irrigation, protected cultivation, use of organic method of farming, use of safe and eco-friendly pesticides/control methods.