The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) current projections suggest that in the next 30 years, food production will have to increase by at least 70% to meet the demands of the world’s growing population. However, this may not be easy to accomplish, given the extensive impact of climate change and weather variability on the sector, and on smallholder farmers in particular. It is necessary, therefore, to build resilience and help farmers to adapt to the changing climate in a way that ensures that a growing population can be fed sustainably without further depleting natural resources.
With Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) showing the potential to achieve the above, efforts are under way to develop, organise and scale up CSA practices. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where the adoption of CSA practices is currently low, the literature points to the necessity to make significant investments in agricultural research and development, institutional support and infrastructural development. Worth noting, however, is the need for a platform where agencies responsible for the various interventions can engage and learn from one another such that future interventions are planned and coordinated from a better informed position. One such attempt was made by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), which convened a meeting of CSA partners in Lusaka, Zambia, from 12th to 14th October 2017.
The purpose of the meeting was to draw inputs from the various organisations with the aim of developing collaborative CSA promotion interventions in East and Southern Africa. Amongst others, the meeting agreed on the establishment of Conservation Agriculture Centres of Excellence (CA CoE) in countries where they are currently not in existence. This initiative is meant to improve knowledge generation on CA practices through research and training. In addition, the need to provide empirical evidence on the relative profitability of CA under different locations and to link farmers to markets in order to reduce transaction costs, as well as the establishment of incentive arrangements for farmers practising CA/CSA was highlighted.
Represented in the meeting were several organisations, including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), African Conservation Tillage Network (ACT), Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), FAO, World Food Programme (WFP), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and SACAU. The event was a success such that participants proposed to have such consultative meetings on an annual basis. It was also suggested that in future meetings, the public sector should be invited given their strategic role in the agricultural sector. As Norad project implementing partners ACT, CFU and SACAU were expected after this meeting to identify possible areas for collaboration as provided for in their respective agreements with Norad.