E Africa: Farmers adapt to climate change
September 10th 2012
Smallholder farmers across East Africa have started to embrace climate-resilient farming approaches and technologies, according to new research recently published by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). At the same time, the survey evidence suggests that many of the changes in farming practices are incremental, rather than transformative in nature, and that high levels of food insecurity prevent many from making all of the changes needed in order to cope with a changing climate. The study, released one year after East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years hit its peak, is based on a survey of over 700 farming households in four East African countries carried out by CCAFS, part of a larger effort covering 5,040 households in 252 villages across 36 sites in 12 countries in East Africa, West Africa and South Asia. It appeared online before publication in the journal Food Security.
‘For generations, farmers and livestock keepers in East Africa have survived high levels of weather variability by testing and adopting new farming practices. As this variability increases, rainfall patterns shift, and average temperatures rise due to climate change, they may need to change faster and more extensively,’ said Patti Kristjanson, a CCAFS Theme Leader who co-led the comprehensive study and works at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). ‘We are seeing that agricultural diversification strategies are key to improved household well-being,’ Kristjanson added. ‘Improved access to good crop, livestock, soil, land and water management information and options for different environments is needed now more than ever.’
This survey of African smallholder farmers is part of systematic effort by CCAFS to better understand the levels of food security among smallholder households, what actions and adaptation strategies farmers have already been pursuing, what information they are getting and how they are using it, and what services they have been receiving. ‘CCAFS is interested in identifying and evaluating the trade-offs farmers face as they attempt to deal with risks from increasing climate variability. While warmer temperatures can in fact increase yields for some crops – particularly in the tropics – the overall implications of climate change for food security for families and the region as a whole is an immense concern,’ said James Kinyangi, CCAFS’ regional program leader for East Africa.
Read the full article: All Africa