Guides to de-risk investment in climate-smart agriculture launched

Written By: Christine Muchira
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“CSA profiles” are presented in Nairobi at global conference dedicated to fast-tracking adoption of climate-smart strategies in Africa
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Detailed guides on the status of and opportunities for investment in climate-smart agriculture in fourteen African countries have been officially launched by scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) at the African Climate-Smart Agriculture Summit in Nairobi Wednesday.

The profiles provide, for the first time, a scientific framework to guide future CSA financing in Africa and de-risk investment in the sector.

Impacts from climate change on people in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be some of the greatest compared to other regions by 2100, yet the continent currently only receives 5 per cent of climate funding.

“Climate-smart agriculture” (CSA) practices seek to help farmers adapt to changing weather patterns, while reducing emissions and boosting food security.

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Yet funding, particularly in Africa, is severely lacking.

“For many large donors, private sector companies and African governments, investing in African agriculture is still extremely risky,” commented Evan Girvetz, senior scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) who leads the CSA profiles project. “Our data and evidence-based reports aim to reduce that risk, by providing a detailed analysis of the most effective approaches to the sustained adoption of climate-smart agriculture from a local to a national level.”

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The CSA profile concept was originally designed to guide large-scale agricultural investments, such as the US$250 million World Bank funded Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project, with research focused on Africa beginning in 2016.

Profiles have since been produced for fourteen African countries, which were launched Wednesday at a session entitled: “Profiling Climate Risk and CSA Opportunities to De-risk Agriculture”.

Countries in focus in the CSA Profiles are: Senegal, Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Côte D’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Benin, Niger and Mali.

Based on a scientific framework, the profiles provide a snapshot of the key issues, climate impacts, CSA practices, relevant policies, and financing opportunities for scaling up the promotion and sustained adoption of CSA interventions.

Policy and investment recommendations are then detailed by researchers, based on an analysis of current drivers and constraints to adoption the identified practices.

“Large-scale investments in climate-smart agriculture need to be based on solid evidence that they will provide productivity and climate benefits,” commented Ademola Braimoh, Coordinator for Climate Smart Agriculture at the World Bank, who spoke at the session. “Until this work by CIAT, that detailed data did not exist. We are now far better equipped to make financing decisions to climate-proof African agriculture in these countries.”

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“There is an insatiable appetite from African governments for up-to-date information on how to implement climate-smart agriculture,” commented Dr. Robert Zougmoré, Africa Lead for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). “In Senegal, the CSA profile is being used to inform national climate change plans and programs.

Also, the creation of profiles for three states in Nigeria has been requested by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, demonstrating the high demand for this data West Africa-wide.”

Stories of successful climate-smart interventions detailed by the CSA profiles in the fourteen countries include:

  • Ethiopia: A system to intensify teff production, which involved seed spacing and the application of organic and inorganic fertilizers, saw yields rise to up to 5 tonnes per hectare, compared to the national average of 1.5 tonnes per hectare. This system has since been scaled out to a million hectares across the country.
  • Zambia: Maize yields in Kafue Town, 35 km from Lusaka doubled thanks to integrated crop-livestock systems that include: adding groundnuts or sugar beans to crop rotations to fix nutrients to the soil; training farmers on supplementary feeding of livestock and treating fields with manure generated on-farm well before the rainy season.
  • Rwanda: Improvement of soil fertility thanks to a land conservation project saw soybeans and maize yields increase by three times, four times for beans, and 10 times for Irish potatoes. Jobs in land husbandry to make the land more resilient to climate shocks (such as hillside terracing) were generated for 22,000 farmers and hillside ponds were established to supply irrigation using renewable hydropower.
  • Tanzania: Introduction of bio-gas digesters has helped farmers reduce firewood and charcoal use, while simultaneously providing a fertilizer and insect repellent for their farms. This has boosted agricultural output, helping farmers achieve up to six times the income as a result.
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In addition to the country-level profiles, a more detailed climate-risk profiling has been done for thirty-one counties in Kenya to inform the US$ 250 million Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project being implemented by The Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF).

These climate-risk profiles take a sub-national value chain approach to identify climate risks and adaptation options for key agricultural commodities, while also identifying institutional, financial and policy gaps and opportunities.

These new African CSA profiles build on a set available for countries in Latin America, South Asia and Europe, which have been shaping policy and investment decisions since 2013.

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