The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.
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Climate

Building smallholder farmers resilience to climate change through the promotion of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices

Pacific Island governments are often able to mobilise international funding to support post-disaster relief and recovery efforts, however, only about 6% of rehabilitation requirements are generally met

© Aleta Moriarty / World Bank

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In the last two decades, Pacific Island countries (PICs) have suffered billions of dollars in damage and loss due to catastrophic weather events such as cyclones and floods, and other natural disasters including volcanic eruptions. Their predominantly small size and the diverse nature of their agricultural production systems make investments unattractive to private insurers.

CTA’s efforts to promote the adoption of a bundle of climate-smart agricultural solutions by 60,000 smallholder farmers in Zambia received a significant boost in 2019 after the government contracted one of the project partners to develop a weather-based insurance product that could reach 1.5 million farmers at the national scale.

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Cassava production and processing in Nigeria generates large quantities of hazardous wastes and residues. Aside from the environmental hazards, such wastes contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. An innovative climate-smart intervention in Nigeria is to re-use the cassava peels in animal feeds. This reduces the demand for maize for feed, creates new business opportunities from waste, reduces the hazards of the waste and reduces GHG emissions.

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Integrated crop-livestock systems that provide synergies towards more resilient climate-smart agricultural production systems are possible despite the recognised competition between crops and livestock enterprises. To make this work, it is necessary to understand the trade-offs and capitalise on the opportunities provided through integration.

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A major concern for smallholder farmers at the start of each season is to choose and source seeds, and with the advent of climate change, this is more critical than ever. As part of a CTA-led initiative to help farmers counter drought and other extreme weather events, seed fairs are being organised in Zambia to improve access to quality seed of stress tolerant maize varieties for smallholder farmers.

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There is hardly a document on African climate change issues that does not portray livestock husbandry in a negative light - responsible for emitting substantial quantities of greenhouse gases. While it is true that some livestock play a role in generating greenhouse gases, this is not the case across the entire sector. Chickens are among the few domestic animals that have a low environmental impact and carbon footprint, and research is moving forward to develop climate-smart poultry production for African smallholders.

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Community seed banks offer a sustainable way to improve access to high-value seeds, creating viable community-based businesses and maintaining biodiversity. In addition, community seed banks contribute to farmer adaptation. They also indirectly enhance household income diversification, community seed systems, and gender outcomes at community level.

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Agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopia and Mali and provides a living for most people in both countries. But climate change is already having an impact on food security as a result of increased extreme events and unpredictable weather patterns. Agrometeorological advisory services are helping some farmers to increase production despite the challenges.

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This brief identifies and addresses key issues facing weather-index-based agricultural insurance. Drawing on diverse experiences from Africa and Central America, it zooms in on key challenges such as affordability, quality of weather data and models, raising awareness and trust in the benefits of insurance products and policy and regulatory frameworks. Scaling strategies require reliable products, access to the rural areas, increased awareness about insurance and cost-effective delivery channels.

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Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is increasingly gaining momentum as countries develop technologies and practices to combat the impacts of climate change. But while the concept of CSA may seem obvious, it is more complex than it appears. This is compounded by the fact that most countries have not developed clear indicators for CSA technologies and practices. Questions remain as to how CSA differs from other types of agriculture, and what needs to be done differently to qualify as CSA.

Erratic and unpredictable weather and changes in the climate threaten the livelihoods and survival of tens of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa. When crops fail, or livestock die of hunger, the repercussions can be devastating. To give just one example, severe drought in 2017 led to cattle herders in northern Kenya losing over 70% of their livestock. In Ethiopia, over 5 million people required emergency food aid and almost 2 million people were displaced from their homes.

By the time CTA’s regional flagship project for Southern Africa comes to an end in 2020, around 140,000 small-scale farmers in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi will have adopted a range of climate-smart strategies to help them cope with drought and erratic weather patterns. About 75,000 farmers are benefiting from the bundle of climate-smart agricultural solutions at the end of the first year of implementation.