Partners in the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation’s (CTA) regional flagship project have unveiled country plans for promoting weather-index insurance and drought-tolerant crop varieties as part of resilient solutions for smallholder farmers to cope with climate change.
The country plans were presented at the field kick-off meeting held in Lilongwe, Malawi last week for the regional, 'Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agricultural Solutions for Cereal and Livestock Farmers' project.
The kick-off meeting was attended by implementing partners from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, who included farmer organisations, private and public sector representatives and knowledge-generating institutions. The meeting finalised project details, deliverables and expectations from partners. It agreed on project implementation timelines including financial reporting mechanisms, knowledge management and communication processes as well as a monitoring and evaluation framework.
About 200,000 smallholder farmers in Southern Africa will benefit from the two-year project funded by the European Union to build their capacity to adapt to climate change. The aim is to ensure smallholder farmers - who keep the continent fed - are able to grow enough food even in the worst of conditions and have excess crops to sell.
The meeting agreed that some of the country plans should be revised to incorporate some of the innovations shared by other implementing partners. This will ensure farmers can quickly adopt the climate-smart solutions, Olu Ajayi, CTA Senior Programme Coordinator and Lead in the regional project said.
"Whatever solutions are available, their adoption by end users is heavily influenced by the policy environment and policy context in which the project is being implemented," said Ajayi. "We are aware of the policy aspect and have involved policy makers and we are working with the regional farmers' organisation, the Southern Africa Confederation of Agriculture Unions (SACAU), who will support the capacity of these partners to be able to identify the entry point and advocate for conducive policy."
Malawi's project plan includes the development of a weather-based insurance, ICT-enabled weather information services and promotion of drought-tolerance varieties among smallholder farmers in Malawi. Combined, these solutions offer great potential to enable farmers to make informed decisions, better manage risk, take advantage of favourable climate conditions, and adapt to change, said the Malawi team. Malawi has targeted 50,000 farmers in five districts across the country to benefit from the project.
At the same time, the Zambia project, targeting 80,000 smallholder farmers in three drought-prone districts, will also develop weather-index insurance and promote drought tolerant maize seeds as well as increase access and use of climate-smart agriculture information. The Zimbabwe project aims to enhance the productivity and adaptation of agriculture under a changing climate by increasing the use of weather-based insurance by farmers and improving their access to weather information through ICT platforms. The project is targeting 30,000 farmers to use ICT-based climate information services with 10,000 others signing up for and using weather-based index insurance as part of a bundled solution.
The implementing partners also agreed to document impact success stories and testimonials across the project.
by Busani Bafana