Globally climate change is emerging as one of the major threats to agricultural development and changes in climate are projected to continue to the foreseeable future. Agriculture is particularly at risk as rising temperatures, volatile rainfall patterns, and increased frequencies and severities of pests and disease outbreaks continue to pose challenges to agriculture production. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) describes a new approach for transforming and aligning farming systems to meet the demands of food security under the new realities of climate change, while also restoring and protecting the environment for future generations.
The growing drive on CSA in high level decision-making platforms is being reflected on some projects that are being implemented on the ground. With almost three years into its four-year term, the Agricultural and Food-system Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (AFRICAP) programme is identifying and implementing evidence-based pathways for sustainable, productive, climate-smart agricultural systems. The project is funded by the UK government and it is being implemented four African countries namely Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. In South Africa the project is implemented in two District Municipalities, Thabo Mofutsanyane and Lejweleputswa in the Free State Province. The decision on the location was made taking into considerations all the requirements (farming systems) such as an area where commercial farms are in close proximity to smallholders farmers and an area with most if not all the identified commodity products (soya beans, maize, potatoes and livestock). One of the unique advantages of the Free State province is that it borders with almost all the provinces of South Africa.
Over the past two year the project has had an introductory workshop with all the key stakeholders, held a number of other workshops, contributed in policy development, conducted ecology field work and recently conducted a household survey. In 2018 a scenarios workshop looked at the possible realities of CSA in South Africa, as well as the future of agriculture and food systems. There were six critical driving forces that were identified, that South Africa needs to address. However, these were later narrowed down to two significant forces that posed uncertainty for our agriculture and food systems, namely land reform and climate change. Furthermore, in order effectively identify adaptation practices or introduce new farming practices to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, fieldwork is underway in the two districts. Lastly on the highlighted activities of AFRICAP is the household survey that was conducted in 2019 which gathered information about farming systems, including crop cultivation and livestock systems and information on how farmers respond to unexpected weather conditions. After the Covid-19 caused lockdown and when it is safe to have mass gatherings, AFRICAP will have a feedback workshop in the two districts on the results of the survey.
Climate change is already affecting Africa’s agriculture and the rest of the world. African farmers especially, need to be equipped with all the knowledge and skills to combat the effects of climate change. CSA is critical to the long-term sustainability and development of Africa. CSA creates an opportunity for Africa to identify risk mitigation strategies, research, build resilience in order to respond to the changing climate while also meeting the increasing food demands.
Article by : Ms. Nomantande Yeki, Agricultural Economist
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Mzansi Agriculture Talk or its members.