Africa Talk

Climate Smart Agriculture Talks: Political leadership and commitment

The Centre for Coordination of Agriculture Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA) recently unveiled 11 remaining English knowledge products (KPs) on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). 

South Africa particularly has been at pains to promote CSA within the smallholder’s farmers community. According to CCARDESA, the CSA messaging to smallholder farmers has been about “adoption but very often, little is understood.” 

Time is ticking as SADC is on the brink of missing its target. According to the African Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, there was a target of 6 million farmers practising CSA by 2021. 

This has been partly the reason CCARDESA developed 24 knowledge products in English, Portuguese and French. 

“The knowledge products are aimed at assisting policymakers and extension services navigate and implement different CSA technologies and practices across the four key agricultural value chains – Maize, Sorghum, Rice, and Livestock – in the southern Africa region.” 

Among the reasons for producing these knowledge products was about “strengthening the capacities of agricultural value chain actors” – political leadership and commitment was identified as paramount.

Critically, CCARDESA was off the believe that political leadership and commitment could serve as a systematic extension approach to that places “climate/weather information and farmers’ priorities at the heart of the decision-making process.” 

Identifying champions to lead CSA initiatives was a key political instrument of commitment. For smallholder farmers to understand the benefits of adoption, identified personnel should be capacitated with the skill of influencing smallholder farmers to change their behaviours. 

“Widespread implementation of CSA involves changes in the behaviour, strategies, and agricultural practices of millions of farmers in the SADC region. Farmers need support to understand the impacts of climate change and to adopt CSA practices.” 

In South Africa, extension officers would be pivotal as ‘champions’ but it was well too known that public extension services had all but collapsed. 

CCARDESA extends a view that such champions, serving as links to government and policy decision makers, would build broad consensus across multiple departments and institutions Research, Extension, Policy development, Water, Nutrition/Health, Crops, Livestock, Private Sector and Civil Society. 

Institutions as ‘champions of CSA’ was another avenue for consideration much like the Green Building Council of South Africa, which serves as an authority on green building matters. 

Additional reporting: YALI AgC  (Agricultural Communications)

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