Role of institutions in facilitating the adoption of CSA


Emperical evidence suggests that institutions play a pivotal role in facilitating the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices on a wide scale.

Institutions and institutional arrangements serve important functions in information gathering and dissemination, resource mobilisation and allocation, skills development and capacity building, and creating linkages between decision makers and several other entities, including the farmers’ constituency.

This was one of the main discussion points led by SACAU in a public dialogue convened by the National Council of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) in September 2018 in Swakopmund, Namibia. In attendence were representatives from various stakeholders, including the government; private sector; research institutions; finance institutions; local and international development agencies as well as NNFU council members.

Convened under the theme, “Climate Smart Agriculture: The future for communal farmers in Namibia”, this session sought to enlighten participants on their individual and collective roles within the CSA institutional set up. The institutional environment, which is broadly defined by prevailing legislation, policies, rules and regulations, programmes as well as organisations providing CSA related goods and services in a particular country or region, determines whether CSA practices will be implemented effectively or technology will be available and accessible to farmers.

More importantly, if adopted, the institutional environment will determine whether CSA practices and/or technologies will bring positive changes to the farmers’ livelihoods as ground implementers. Farmers’ organisations (FOs) are part of the CSA institutional set up, and have a strong potential to consolidate and disseminate innovations developed by farmers themselves and ensure that farmers’ priorities are represented in the broader agricultural development agenda.

In addition, FOs are expected to conduct their own research (individually or in collaboration with others) and use generated facts to advance their advocacy for better CSA related policies and investments.

A climate change adaptation roadmap for agriculture

KKLA discussion paper titled “Feeding the world in a changing climate: an adaptation roadmap for agriculture” was recently published. The paper looks at the main issues that an adaptation roadmap for agriculture should consider, particularly in developing countries.

It explores several questions which are around the principal climate risks to agriculture and the implications of no adaptation; areas where action is required to advance in the implementation of climate resilient agriculture practices; emerging lessons from successful adaptation efforts in agriculture, and key pathways to scaling up agricultural adaptation.

Some of the highlights are the three areas in which action is required to lay the groundwork to advance climate-resilient agriculture practices, worldwide. These are scaling adaptive farming technologies and practices that work, deploying national climate policies and action to drive adaptation efforts, and mobilising finance for large scale agricultural adaptation activity.

In laying the groundwork, the paper draws out lessons to inform the design and implementation of solutions at scale within the urgent timeframe required. Some of the lessons are that a shared vision of the future of farming helps navigate uncertainty; collective actions help overcome barriers; adaptation actions need to tackle the root cause of risks and vulnerabilities; food system reform can empower women, youth, and other marginalised groups; approaches to leapfrog learning curves are key; meeting short – and long-term priorities alike; adaptation actions to suit context; realising benefits at scale, and tracking progress toward adaptation goals is a crucial aspect of any effective adaptation strategy.

It concludes by making several recommendations, amongst them the following: promoting climate-resilient and low-emission practices and technologies; expanding digital climate information services; mobilising innovative finance to leverage public and private sector investments for adaptation; strengthening farmer and consumer organisations and networks and delivering enabling policies and institutions.

According to the paper, these recommendations need to be at the centre of future agricultural research, policy, action and advocacy. Pursuing an agenda around these recommendations will help achieve major transitions across the agriculture sector and to replicate promising solutions on the scale required to address climate change risks and ensure food security. SACAU is one of the 15 authors of the discussion paper. The full paper can be accessed from assets/2018-10/18_WP_GCA_ Agriculture_1001_Oct5.pdf

Farmers call for integration of climate smart agriculture in school curriculum

In the context of climate change, the agricultural sector is confronted with a number of challenges. These relate to the expectation to produce more food to feed a growing world population while overcoming the negative impacts of climate change on the various types of agricultural enterprises. In addition, as a significant contributor to greenhouse gases, the sector is expected to reduce emissions to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 20C.

Achieving these targets through conventional farming methods will be difficult as agriculture is no longer a ‘simple’ process of producing food and fibre consistent with the image of the industry’s humble origins. Therefore, a transformation in the agricultural sector is imperative. But is transformation feasible without digital agriculture?

This is one of the contemporary issues that were discussed in the side event hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), in collaboration with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) at the 48th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) on the 30th of April 2018 in Bonn, Germany. The motivation of this subject was linked to the omission of digital agriculture as a key component in the current edition of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA).


Dr Majola Mabuza (first from the right) at the side event during SBSTA in April in Bonn, Germany

Climate change adaptation is knowledge intensive, necessitating the use of different types of technology innovations to make farming more precise, efficient and rewarding. Research evidence has shown that adaptation can be site specific, hence segmenting data and information according to specific geographical areas can increase the relevance and applicability of farming tips, for example, enabling producers to increase productivity through efficient use of inputs, including land.

Efficient input use, particularly land, can help resolve the global challenge of deforestation, which is one of the major contributors of emissions. Therefore, data-driven farming practices create site-specific smartness that should inform longterm farm plans and provide farmers with tools to adapt and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

Despite the notion that digital or ICT-based interventions are not in sync with the dominant smallholder sub-sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, recent evidence has proven otherwise as small-scale farmers in the region benefit from various services (e.g. farming tips, weather-based index insurance, credit, funeral insurance cover, etc) that are offered through mobile phones.

The proliferation of digital agriculture also creates the right incentive for the youth to participate in various levels of the agricultural value chain. With access to better education, increased connectivity, and an appetite for technology and ICT based information, the young generation is better positioned to take advantage of the vast opportunities that Africa’s resources and global markets present.

Engaging the youth in climate risk management activities, will help create an environmentally conscious generation with considerable power to transform society towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future. The youth will become a new generation of ruralbased employers, hence contributing towards reducing climate-induced migration, which currently creates challenges of social cohesion and stability in host cities and/or countries within and beyond the continent.


Farmers call for integration of climate smart agriculture in school curriculum


SACAU attended the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) district meeting on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) which was held in June 2018

With climate change set to continue bringing major disruptions to various sectors, including agriculture, it is high time that the young generation is equipped with more knowledge on adaptation and mitigation measures from an early age. One option, which is linked to the conviction of ‘knowledge being a principal motivator of behavioural change and practice’, is the integration of climate change in the school curriculum, with considerable focus on imparting knowledge on adaptation and mitigation practices across different economic sectors. This is one contemporary recommendation that was made by members of the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) in one of the organisation’s District Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) advocacy events held in June 2018.


Members during the discussion at the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) district meeting on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) which was held in June 2018.

Early exposure to concepts such as CSA can help improve the community’s adaptability to climate change and reverse the latter’s impact on poverty and food security. Evidence drawn from Asia where such initiatives have already been undertaken, suggests that such programmes have become an effective means for engaging the young generation as leaders, information providers, agents of change and advocates for a sustainable agricultural sector. Worth noting, however, is the fact that smart curriculum planning and design should be done in a manner that builds credibility and stakeholder buy-in.


Many practices can be CSA somewhere, but none are likely CSA everywhere

Dr Bruce Campbell of CCAFS sharing what climate smart agriculture is at the sensitisation workshopDr Bruce Campbell of CCAFS sharing what climate smart agriculture is at the sensitisation workshop

Climate change continues to threaten agriculture, food security and income generation, particularly for agriculture-dependant households, leading to increased calls to develop resilient food production systems.

To this end, African countries have made commitments through the Malabo Declaration, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Climate Agreement, among others, to promote the uptake of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). However, despite the CSA concept gaining considerable traction, the uptake of CSA innovations has not matched the ambitions of many subSaharan African countries.

One of the major underlying causes is the divergent views on the CSA concept itself among policy makers and other stakeholders, including farmers themselves. The major contention relates to the identification of practices and technologies that are considered ‘smart’. Is it possible to draw a line between ‘climate smart’ and ‘non-climate smart practices’?

During a workshop hosted by SACAU to sensitise members on CSA from 5 to 6 April 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, it emerged from discussions with a number of resource persons that ‘climate smartness’ is context specific. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the different climate change issues anywhere around the globe.

From the broad menu of different practices, programmes and policies available, it is incumbent upon each country to identify suitable CSA practices for different specific locations. This can only be achieved by involving relevant stakeholders in the decisionmaking process to contribute their expert knowledge and allow the process to consider their conflicting views and interests.

With the involvement of farmers, such consultative processes should consider the feasibility, environmental and adaptation benefits of all possible interventions, as well as the social and economic aspects they are likely to bring for a particular location

Wide-scale adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture


Climate change has emerged as a major threat to agriculture, food security and income generation, particularly for agriculture-dependant households globally leading to increased calls to develop resilient food production systems.

To this end, African countries have made commitments through the Malabo Declaration, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Climate Agreement to promote the uptake of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).


Low adoption rates are linked to a number of factors, including the divergent views on the CSA concept itself, limited understanding by farmers, limited understanding of the fundamentals for wide-scale adoption, and the limited empirical evidence on the benefits of CSA, particularly to farmers.

In view of the above, we are organising a CSA sensitisation workshop for members which will be held from 5 to 6 April 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This event, which will host a number of resource persons from different regional and international organisations, represents an important step towards addressing some of the above-highlighted knowledge gaps.

Some of the topics to be covered are defining the CSA concept, climate-smart practices, and technologies, farmers’ prioritisation of CSA practices and technologies and fundamentals for scaling up CSA in southern Africa.

Promoting the adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture in southern Africa

Southern African countries have joined the rest of the world in declaring their commitment to developing resilient food production systems under progressive climate change and variability.

One option that has been introduced in several countries is Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA), a concept that comprises a set of practices and technologies that can enhance the climate resilience of farming systems. CSA is gradually gaining prominence due to its capacity to sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience to climatic stresses while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Worth noting, however, is the fact that despite the continued experience of climate change-related challenges and the likely benefits linked to CSA, recent studies have indicated a considerably low level of CSA adoption by farmers in several countries.

Adoption of agricultural innovations is generally influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors, which may also be classified into biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional factors. Among the above, institutional factors (policies, programmes, regulations, etc) are critical in creating an environment within which stakeholders make investment decisions. A conducive environment will allow, for instance, the public and private sectors’ participation through the provision of quality and affordable inputs and equipment, finance and the capacity-building of farmers.

Off-takers would provide reliable markets for products, reducing the high transaction costs that smallholder farmers generally have to contend with.

In an effort to address policyrelated bottlenecks, SACAU will in the next four years implement a project titled “Promoting the Adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture on a Wide Scale in Southern Africa”.

The project, which is financially supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), seeks to advocate for conducive policies for wide-scale uptake of CSA in southern Africa.

Its specific objectives are to (i) enhance the capacities of national farmers’ organisations (FOs) to advocate for better CSA-related policies and investments; (ii) increase the influence of SACAU in CSA policy and related processes at regional and global levels; and (iii) increase the influence of Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union (ZFU) in CSA policy and related processes in Zimbabwe.

The project will commence with a baseline study to provide background information and benchmark values that will serve as the basis for monitoring progress and future evaluations that will establish the extent to which it has achieved its stated objectives. SACAU appreciates the financial support extended by NORAD to implement this important project.


Promoting the adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture in southern Africa

The Seventh African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), under the theme “Accelerating the Path to Prosperity – Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture” was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 4-8 September 2017. The event which was attended by as many as 1,300 delegates, provided a premier platform for individuals to highlight their successes as well as for institutions to share their stories as they strive to drive significant progress across the continent for agricultural transformation and food security.

A number of high-profile dignitaries, such as presidents and former presidents of several African states like Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, graced the 2017 AGRF. The SACAU delegation comprised Dr Theo de Jager, the president; Mr Ishmael Sunga, the CEO; and Mr Benito Eliasi, the Capacity Development Advisor as well as Ms Ruramiso Mashumba and Ms Maness Nkhata, who represented the SACAU Young Farmer Ambassadors.

SACAU took part in four out of the more than 52 sessions that were held in various capacities, including that of organisers, key speakers, discussants and panellists.

The main areas covered in these sessions included youth employment, women in agribusiness, strengthening youths’ access to inputs, markets, financing and creating an enabling policy environment for youth participation in agriculture.

One of the highlights of the AGRF was the launch of the 2017 African Agriculture Status Report (AASR), titled “The Business of Smallholder Agriculture”, which, among others, stressed the importance of governments working with the “free market” to drive Africa’s economic growth from food production.

The report also emphasised the need to substitute imports with high value food produced in Africa for a market forecast to be worth more than US$1-trillion a year by 2030.

Delegates at the event emphasised that for Africa to achieve agricultural transformation, new models and new ways of doing business in agriculture are required and highlighted the need for all partners in the agricultural sector to regularly track progress against the agreed action plans to ensure more partners are mobilised and resources accounted for.

The forum also considered how governments, businesses and other partners are delivering on the political, policy and financial commitments worth more than  US$30-billion made at the 2016 AGRF in Nairobi, Kenya, and the impact this is having on the lives and incomes of farmers and agribusinesses.

Commensurate with this, various organisations made commitments to promote agricultural transformation on the continent. Among these were the European Union; German Federal Ministry of Economic Corporation and Development (BMZ); Yara; Rockefeller Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the African Union.