Putting Science into Action for Climate-Smart Agriculture

This blog post first appeared on the CCAFS blog on October 28, 2011.

Discussing Climate-Smart Agriculture in Ede, Netherlands. Photo: C. Schubert (CCAFS)

The Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture wrapped up three intensive days focused on deepening understanding of the climate-smart agriculture (CSA) concept. The event, held in Ede, the Netherlands brought together researchers  from around the world to share best practices on the ground. Together, they worked to identify key priorities for further knowledge development as well as ways to effectively implement known solutions. The participants ranged from scientists, non-governmental organizations, farmer’s associations to ministry representatives and universities.

The conference was an important stepping stone for future climate meetings, building momentum in the hope that agriculture will be seen as part of the solution to climate change and not only as contributing to the problems, through the triple win of climate-smart agriculture. This common vision was outlined by Sir John Beddington, Lindiwe Sibanda (FANRPAN), in the opening keynotes.

Science for action

’The Wageningen Statement: Climate-Smart Agriculture – Science for Action’ is the official declaration from the meeting. The declaration states that agriculture must be part of the solution to climate change and that there is a need to recognize the critical role of farmers in sustainable development and in alleviating poverty. Further, women and youth are acknowledged to play an important role in agriculture and sustainable development for which there is need to involve them in research and development of CSA practices and food security.

The declaration states that it is crucial to recognize that agriculture is context specific and thus one-size –fits all solutions will not work. Instead, a focus should be placed on participatory research and filling existing research gaps to find suitable practices. There is a need to scale up CSA through learning-by-doing in close collaboration with farmers and service-providers; build institutions and incentives to enable all farmers to adopt CSA practices; adopt a farmer-based approach when designing policies and setting priorities to achieve action on the ground; increase investments and finance ‘early-action’ on proven technologies; and adopt a decision to establish a Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice Programme of Work at COP 17 as a first step to mainstream agriculture in international climate change policy. Read the full press release from the World Bank.

The conference was co-sponsored by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) with Director Bruce Campbell giving a well-received presentation to an audience of 160 participants. Regional Program Leader Robert Zougmoré from CCAFS West Africa region was one of the workshop facilitators during the meeting. Details on Bruce Campbell’s presentation will be posted in the upcoming days.

Workshop participants came from diverse countries as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Mali, USA, Denmark, United Kingdom, Argentina, and China, including Florence Birungi Kyazze, from Makerere University in Uganda, who was part of a CCAFS household baseline survey team in Uganda. Florence was keen to join the conference, and noted that by bringing together high-level scientists with grassroots researchers, the event helped produce a deeper understanding of the potential challenges and opportunities with climate-smart agriculture.

  • Javier Redoano - Agritranslate November 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Biointensive agriculture seems to be a multiple-win solution, especially for small farmers in developing countries and LDCs. It requires small plots, as it makes the most of the soil with high yields mainly owing to the increase in plant density, which also prevents soil degradation from wind and water erosion. In turn, higher land productivity helps farmers have access to markets thanks to the competitive prices reached also as a result of lower production costs achieved by saving on such inputs as inorganic fertilizers (replaced by compost, which is usually elaborated by the farmers themselves), agrochemicals and hybrid seeds. Increased plant density also reduces tillage for weed control, which lowers production costs as well as carbon emissions. At the same time, this climate-smart agricultural practice agriculture increases soil capacity of water storage, since crops are grown on a specially prepared double arable layer, which offsets water loss from capillary action.
    With regard to rural women, this low-input method that can be put into practice in small plots is an ideal alternative for them to improve their socioeconomic conditions and overcome gender-related inequalities and discrimination.
    As for the reduction of GHG emissions, this is one of the main pros featured by biointensive agriculture thanks to lesser use of fossil fuels and smaller cropping areas which avoids deforestation and slay-and burn-practices, thus preserving carbon sequestration sources.
    Biointensive agriculture appears to be one of the best ways to ensure rural livelihoods and food safety while protecting the environment and preserving natural resources. Not only should it be incorporated to the climate change agenda, but it should be mainstreamed as a key element of the solution to climate change underlying any agricultural policy.