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Report from COP21: Climate-smart agriculture showcased at Paris climate talks

Many countries engaged in the Paris climate negotiations have included agriculture in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), giving more prominence to the sector. However, agriculture is not yet a substantial issue for negotiators. At a CTA co-organised event at the global climate conference in Paris, three experts share innovative approaches to climate-smart agriculture in Africa.  

For about 20 million pastoralists in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, livestock is the main income as well as an important food source. However, the effects of climate change, such as of prolonged drought, can mean devastating loss of assets and livelihood for these farmers.

An innovation - index insurance - insures pastoralists against drought, the most common danger livestock farmers face in East Africa. Index insurance "insures the rains", explains Gargule Achiba, a researcher at the University of Berne, Switzerland. "If the rains fail to come, then a farmer is compensated," Achiba tells the "Scaling up innovative approaches to climate-smart agriculture in Africa" side event at COP21 in Paris on 4 December.

The event was co-organised by CTA and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). It highlighted innovative approaches to agriculture in Africa in the context of a changing climate that can be part of the implementation of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), and showcased solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa.

Kilimo Salama or helping farmers to sleep well

Olu Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator at CTA, explains the work of the Centre in Africa in this regard. He speaks specifically about CTA's project on promoting productivity and resilience under a changing climate. CTA's efforts are documented in two publications: "Evidence of impact: Climate-smart agriculture in Africa" and "Climate solutions that work for farmers". These publications point out that smallholder farmers in developing countries are likely to be among the people hardest hit by climate change because of agriculture's dependence on weather and the low level of resilience of farming to climate variability and change.

"The good news is that innovative approaches are being developed to meet this challenge," says Michael Hailu, Director of CTA, in the foreword of "Climate solutions that work for farmers". Hailu adds: "One of these approaches – climate-smart agriculture – aims to increase farm productivity and incomes in a sustainable manner, enable farmers to adapt and build resilience to climate change and (where possible) reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Olu Ajayi says insuring farmers against extreme weather has been dubbed "Kilimo Salama", an expression in the KiSwahili language that means "helping farmers to sleep well".


Interview with Olu Ajayi, Sr Programme Coordinator Climate Change at CTA from CTA on Vimeo.

Coping with rainfall variability

The national contributions presented at the Paris climate talks are intended to make it possible to track progress and achieve a collective ambition level sufficient to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels. INDCs shall reflect national circumstances and, therefore, are expected to be of many different types. In Kenya and Ethiopia, farmers are being provided with agro-weather tools, which they use to determine the best time to cultivate crops. Under this project, farmers have seen their income increase as much as 30 per cent, explains Oladimmeji I. Oladele, a professor of Agricultural Extension at North-West University in South Africa.

Interview with Professor Oladimmeji Oladele from CTA on Vimeo.

The rising importance of agriculture in climate change talks

At the COP21 event, Michael Hailu also notes that agriculture is now featuring strongly in the climate change talks. He, however, points out that the challenge is always what kinds of innovations can contribute to creating climate-resilient agriculture, adding that stakeholders always find it difficult to find things that really work. "However, CTA and CCAFS have been working together for a number of years and have identified some of the innovative approaches that address climate changes and have decide to showcase them at COP21," Hailu says.

Delali K. Nutsukpo, Director at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Ghana, says that the emergence of climate-smart agriculture is increasing the importance of agriculture in the climate change negotiations, and outlines the response of his country's government.

Interview with Delali K. Nutsukpo from CTA on Vimeo.


See the photos from the events co-organised by CTA at COP21
Watch other videos from CTA at COP21


Climate Change and SIDS: A voice at COP21 for small farmers (Ramphal Institute, CaFAN and CTA, 2015).
Climate solutions that work for farmers (CTA, 2015).
Evidence of impact: climate-smart agriculture in Africa (CTA and CCAFS, 2015).
Special edition of the Spore magazine Global warming: Doing business in a time of climate change (CTA, 2015).
Climate-smart agriculture success stories from farming communities around the world (CTA and CCAFS, 2013).
Guide to UNFCCC Negotiations on Agriculture: Toolkit for Communications and Outreach (CTA, CCAFS and Farming First).

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