What is CSA?
Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) may be defined as an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural development under the new realities of climate change (Lipper et al. 2014). 1 The most commonly used definition is provided by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which defines CSA as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”. In this definition, the principal goal of CSA is identified as food security and development (FAO 2013a; 2 Lipper et al. 2014 1); while productivity, adaptation, and mitigation are identified as the three interlinked pillars necessary for achieving this goal.
The three pillars of CSA
- Productivity: CSA aims to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes from crops, livestock and fish, without having a negative impact on the environment. This, in turn, will raise food and nutritional security. A key concept related to raising productivity is sustainable intensification
- Adaptation: CSA aims to reduce the exposure of farmers to short-term risks, while also strengthening their resilience by building their capacity to adapt and prosper in the face of shocks and longer-term stresses. Particular attention is given to protecting the ecosystem services which ecosystems provide to farmers and others. These services are essential for maintaining productivity and our ability to adapt to climate changes.
- Mitigation: Wherever and whenever possible, CSA should help to reduce and/or remove greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This implies that we reduce emissions for each calorie or kilo of food, fibre and fuel that we produce. That we avoid deforestation from agriculture. And that we manage soils and trees in ways that maximizes their potential to acts as carbon sinks and absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
Key characteristics of CSA
- CSA addresses climate change: Contrary to conventional agricultural development, CSA systematically integrates climate change into the planning and development of sustainable agricultural systems (Lipper et al. 2014). 1
- CSA integrates multiple goals and manages trade-offs: Ideally, CSA produces triple-win outcomes: increased productivity, enhanced resilience and reduced emissions. But often it is not possible to achieve all three. Frequently, when it comes time to implement CSA, trade-offs must be made. This requires us to identify synergies and weigh the costs and benefits of different options based on stakeholder objectives identified through participatory approaches (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Synergies and trade-offs for adaptation, mitigation and food security (Source; Vermeulen et al. 2012, p. C-3) 4
Key characteristics of CSA (contd.)
- CSA maintains ecosystems services: Ecosystems provide farmers with essential services, including clean air, water, food and materials. It is imperative that CSA interventions do not contribute to their degradation. Thus, CSA adopts a landscape approach that builds upon the principles of sustainable agriculture but goes beyond the narrow sectoral approaches that result in uncoordinated and competing land uses, to integrated planning and management (FAO 2012b; 5 FAO 2013a 2).
- CSA has multiple entry points at different levels: CSA should not be perceived as a set of practices and technologies. It has multiple entry points, ranging from the development of technologies and practices to the elaboration of climate change models and scenarios, information technologies, insurance schemes, value chains and the strengthening of institutional and political enabling environments. As such, it goes beyond single technologies at the farm level and includes the integration of multiple interventions at the food system, landscape, value chain or policy level.
- CSA is context specific: What is climate-smart in one-place may not be climate-smart in another, and no interventions are climate-smart everywhere or every time. Interventions must take into account how different elements interact at the landscape level, within or among ecosystems and as a part of different institutional arrangements and political realities. The fact that CSA often strives to reach multiple objectives at the system level makes it particularly difficult to transfer experiences from one context to another.
- CSA engages women and marginalised groups:To achieve food security goals and enhance resilience, CSA approaches must involve the poorest and most vulnerable groups. These groups often live on marginal lands which are most vulnerable to climate events like drought and floods. They are, thus, most likely to be affected by climate change. Gender is another central aspect of CSA. Women typically have less access and legal right to the land which they farm, or to other productive and economic resources which could help build their adaptive capacity to cope with events like droughts and floods (Huyer et al. 2015). 6 CSA strives to involve all local, regional and national stakeholders in decision-making. Only by doing so, is it possible to identify the most appropriate interventions and form the partnerships and alliances needed to enable sustainable development.
View case studies of CSA interventions
Examples of specific CSA interventions include soil management, drought-tolerant maize, dairy development, farming catfish intensively, carbon finance to restore crop fields, waste-reducing rice thresher, rainfall forecasts and incentive system for low-carbon agriculture.
Lipper L, Thornton P, Campbell BM, (…), Torquebiau EF. 2014. Climate-smart agriculture for food security. Nature Climate Change 4:1068-1072.http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2437 Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural systems to support food security under the new realities of climate change. Widespread changes in rainfall and temperature patterns threaten agricultural production and increase the vulnerability of people dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, which includes most of the world's poor. Climate change disrupts food markets, posing population-wide risks to food supply. Threats can be reduced by increasing the adaptive capacity of farmers as well as increasing resilience and resource use efficiency in agricultural production systems. CSA promotes coordinated actions by farmers, researchers, private sector, civil society and policymakers towards climate-resilient pathways through four main action areas: (1) building evidence; (2) increasing local institutional effectiveness; (3) fostering coherence between climate and agricultural policies; and (4) linking climate and agricultural financing. CSA differs from 'business-as-usual' approaches by emphasizing the capacity to implement flexible, context-specific solutions, supported by innovative policy and financing actions.
FAO. 2013a. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Sourcebook. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3325e.pdf Between now and 2050, the world’s population will increase by one-third. Most of these additional 2 billion people will live in developing countries. At the same time, more people will be living in cities. If current income and consumption growth trends continue, FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed. Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction. Climate change will make this task more difficult under a business-as-usual scenario, due to adverse impacts on agriculture, requiring spiralling adaptation and related costs.
Papuso I, Faraby JA. 2013. Climate Smart Agriculture. Seminar on Climate Change and Risk Management, May 6, 2013.http://www.slideshare.net/jimalfaraby/climate-smart-agriculture-20675751 This resource is comprised of slides from a presentation giving an overview of the climate-smart agriculture concept.
Vermeulen SJ, Campbell BM, Ingram SJI. 2012. Climate Change and Food Systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 37:195-222.http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-020411-130608 Food systems contribute 19%–29% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, releasing 9,800–16,900 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2008. Agricultural production, including indirect emissions associated with land-cover change, contributes 80%–86% of total food system emissions, with significant regional variation. The impacts of global climate change on food systems are expected to be widespread, complex, geographically and temporally variable, and profoundly influenced by socioeconomic conditions. Historical statistical studies and integrated assessment models provide evidence that climate change will affect agricultural yields and earnings, food prices, reliability of delivery, food quality, and, notably, food safety. Low-income producers and consumers of food will be more vulnerable to climate change owing to their comparatively limited ability to invest in adaptive institutions and technologies under increasing climatic risks. Some synergies among food security, adaptation, and mitigation are feasible. But promising interventions, such as agricultural intensification or reductions in waste, will require careful management to distribute costs and benefits effectively.
FAO. 2012b. Mainstreaming climate-smart agriculture into a broader landscape approach. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/ap402e/ap402e.pdf Today’s large diversity of semi-natural and manmade landscapes is the result of centuries of human interventions. The management and use of natural resources and ecosystem services have provided for humanity’s multiple needs for food, fibre, fodder, fuel, building materials, medicinal products and water. However, this has often been undertaken in an unsustainable manner causing the degradation of the natural resource base and loss of ecosystem services. Increasing pressure from population growth, changes in food consumption patterns, climate change and competition from other sectors is further weakening the viability of current systems. The triple challenges to simultaneously mitigate the effects of climate change, safeguard natural resources more efficiently and produce more food and ensure food security for future generations require effective policies and approaches. This paper examines how landscape approaches can be used in developing integrated multipurpose production systems that are environmentally and socially sustainable. The paper assesses the key policy, governance, financial and institutional interventions required, and looks at how a landscape approach can support the adoption of climate-smart agriculture and generate green growth. Finally, the paper considers how synergies between the agriculture and forestry sectors can be improved and how this can be facilitated through REDD+ implementation.
Huyer S, Twyman J, Koningstein M, Ashby J, Vermeulen SJ. 2015. Supporting women farmers in a changing climate: five policy lessons. Policy Brief 10. Copenhagen, Denamrk: Reseach Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/60479/retrieve
Recent research presented at a seminar in Paris co-organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and Future Earth produced five key policy recommendations for supporting women farmers in a changing climate: Key recommendations ` New technologies and practices for climate change will be adopted more successfully when they are appropriate to women’s interests, resources and demands; ` Extension and climate information services need to serve women and men; ` Institutions need to take into account women’s priorities and support their adaptive capacity; ` Women’s capacity as farmers and innovators needs to be recognized and supported; and ` Climate policy processes should go beyond numerical representation of women to create active mechanisms to express opinions, take initiatives, and influence decisions.
Sipalla F, Cairns J. 2015. CIMMYT-CCAFS Scientists Identify Maize Varieties That Can Withstand Drought and High Temperatures in Zimbabwe. Nairobi, Kenya: CIMMYT.http://dtma.cimmyt.org/index.php/component/content/article/110-news-articles/176-cimmyt-ccafs-scientists-identify-maize-varieties-that-can-withstand-drought-and-high-temperatures-in-zimbabwe This news story covers how CIMMYT-IITA scientists have identified new maize varieties in Zimbabwe capable of resisting high temperatures and drought.
La Rovere R, Kostandini G, Abdoulaye T, Dixon J, Mwangi W, Guo Z, Banziger M. 2010. Potential impact of investments in drought tolerant maize in Africa. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: CIMMYT.https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=vJ3fZu2TZVIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR6&dq=La+Rovere+et+al.+(2010).+Potential+impact+of+investments+in+drought+tolerant+maize+in+Africa.+CIMMYT,+Addis+Ababa,+Ethiopia.+&ots=yDKamQpWdS&sig=q3xGq-5sfRNtU6ISkps64Z80YJA#v=onepage&q&f=false The study evaluates the potential impacts of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project run by CIMMYT and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in 13 countries of eastern, southern and West Africa: Angola, Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and Ghana. It describes cumulative economic and poverty-reduction benefits to farmers and consumers in those countries over 2007-16, from higher yields and from diminished season-to-season yield fluctuations, through the adoption by farmers of improved, drought tolerant maize varieties. At the most likely rates of adoption, based on several recent studies and expert advice, drought tolerant maize can generate US$ 0.53 billion from increased maize grain harvests and reduced risk over the study period, assuming conservative yield improvements—that is, a yield advantage over normal, improved maize of 3-20%, depending on the site and seasonal conditions. Assuming more optimistic yield gains—a range of 10-34% over non-drought tolerant improved maize—the economic benefit is nearly US$ 0.88 billion in project countries. Optimistic yields plus full replacement of current improved varieties with drought tolerant ones could help more than 4 million people to escape poverty and many millions more to improve their livelihoods. The most striking economic and poverty benefits will accrue in Nigeria, Kenya, and Malawi, based on the amounts of maize sown in those countries, the importance of maize in inhabitants’ diets and livelihoods, and their historical levels of adoption of improved maize. In comparison, the benefits will be more modest in Angola and Mozambique and moderate in Uganda and Mali. However, even if most DTMA project resources were allocated to the countries where the benefits are highest, the other countries would still benefit from the research spillovers that could be facilitated by crossborder seed market exchanges. Crucial components in this multi-disciplinary study included geographic information system data, data on the probability of failed crop seasons (PFS), yield data from breeders, projected maize adoption rates mainly from seed experts, and poverty data from socioeconomists. The drought tolerant varieties considered are the product of conventional breeding—that is, they are not transgenic. Follow-up research will address potential benefits from such factors as area expansion effects, increased cropping diversity (households can meet their maize requirements from a smaller portion of their land, freeing up space to sow other crops), and increased investment in fertilizer and other improvements, owing to reduced risk. Moreover, if as expected farmers who adopt drought tolerant maize continue to grow it beyond 2016, the returns on investments to this work will become even more significant.
CCAFS. 2014a. East African Dairy Development program adopts Climate Smart Agriculture. Outcome Case. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/31717/retrieve Livestock production is responsible for 12% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Managing sustainable intensification of livestock production systems could therefore soon become a key component of climate change mitigation efforts. Heifer International has been awarded additional funding to build on the existing work of the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) programme that is working to create a robust dairy industry in a region where demand for fresh milk is close to outstripping supply. The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are partners in this programme, helping Heifer work with more than 200,000 farmers to improve dairy production and provide access to markets over the next four years. EADD has now adopted climate smart agriculture as a programme objective, partly based on engagement with CCAFS scientists, and the mounting evidence that better feeding – by using fodder banks, improved pasture species, planted legumes and crop by-products – and manure management can contribute both to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved income for farmers. In partnership with the Standard Assessment of Mitigation Potential and Livelihoods in Smallholder Systems (SAMPLES) project, EADD has selected climate smart agriculture interventions in the new phase of the program. Furthermore, in order to address capacity and knowledge gaps in measuring greenhouse gas emissions in smallholder systems, CCAFS scientists are working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at an EADD site in Kenya, estimating greenhouse gas emissions and productivity in dairy systems.
WWF. 2012. In Vietnam, Helping Catfish Farming Become More Sustainable.http://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/in-vietnam-helping-catfish-farming-become-more-sustainable Vietnam is the source of more than 90 percent of the world's pangasius exports, which have increased 50-fold in the last decade. The majority of this pangasius is farmed in 23 square miles of ponds across nine provinces of the Mekong River Delta—a critically important freshwater habitat. In 2011, the regions farmed pangasius production amounted to 600,000 tons. This intensive, high-volume production system is very efficient, a workable commercial method providing protein to a growing world population that experts estimate could reach 9 billion by 2050.
World Bank. 2014. Kenyans earn first ever carbon credits from sustainable farming. Press release, 21 January 2014.http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/01/21/kenyans-earn-first-ever-carbon-credits-from-sustainable-farming NAIROBI, January 21, 2014 – Smallholder farmers in western Kenya are now benefiting from carbon credits generated by improving farming techniques. These are the first credits worldwide issued under the sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) carbon accounting methodology.
Neate P. 2013. Climate-smart agriculture success stories from farming communities around the world. Wageningen, Netherlands: CCAFS; Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/24750/retrieve To ensure a food-secure future, farming must become climate resilient. Around the world, governments and communities are adopting innovations that are improving the lives of millions while reducing agriculture’s climate footprint. These successful examples show the many ways climate-smart agriculture can take shape, and should serve as inspiration for future policies and investments.
Shames S, Wekesa A, Wachiye E. 2012. Institutional innovations in African smallholder carbon projects. CCAFS Report 8. Case Study: Western Kenya Smallholder Agriculture Carbon Finance project: Vi Agroforestry. Copenhagen: CCAFS.https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/20187/retrieve This paper synthesizes the insights of six African agricultural carbon project case studies and identifies institutional innovations among these projects that are contributing to long-term project success while maximizing benefits and minimizing risk for participating farmers. We review project organization and management, the structure and role of community groups within the projects, costs and benefits for managers and farmers, strategies to manage risks to farmers, and efforts to support women’s participation. Projects have developed organizational systems for financial management, agricultural extension, and carbon monitoring. All of these were managed by project management entities, with farmers implementing practices and supporting monitoring systems. Most projects engaged farmers in small groups and larger clusters of groups, which enabled broad participation, efficient contracting, timely communication, provision of extension services, benefit-sharing, and gender-focused activities. Direct carbon payments to farmers were low. Consequently projects needed to manage expectations around benefits carefully, support more efficient systems of aggregation and ensure non-cash benefits for farmers. Managing power dynamics within and among farmer groups was a significant challenge to ensuring equitable decision-making and participation. Mechanisms for settling conflict over land and benefits were also critical. We present action research questions that emerged from the first phase of this work and discuss the future of the initiative. Case studies about each agriculture carbon project from which our analysis is drawn can be downloaded along with the main report.
Africa Rice Center. 2005. How partnership built ASI and ISA. Annual Report 2004–2005. Cotonou, Benin: AfricaRice.http://www.warda.cgiar.org/publications/AR2004-05/ASI.pdf This feature story from the 2004-5 Africa Rice Center Annual Report covers the emergence of the ASI (ADRAO-SAED-ISRA) rice thresher, which is able to significantly reduce postharvest losses, while reducing the burden of hard manual labor.
Mohapatra S. 2012. The little machine that could. Rice Today. Cotonou, Banin: AfricaRice.http://www.africarice.org/publications/ricetoday/The_little_machine_that_could.pdf This article explains the history of the Asian rice thresher, which provides farmers with an efficient alternative to manual threshing. The thresher is named the ASI, after the three main partners who contributed to its development: AfricaRice, the Senegal River Valley National Development Agency and the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research. The ASI has been one of the most important postharvest technologies in the Senegal River Valley, helping rice farmers to deal with labor scarcity.
Mello FFC. 2015. ABC – National Plan for Low Carbon Emissions in Agriculture – Brazilian Experience. Presentation at Joint Conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and France.http://www.ag4climate.org/programme/ag4climate-session-3-5-mello.pdf This resource is comprised of slides from a presentation concerning the Brazilian Government's plan for low carbon emissions in the agricultural sector.