Knowledge Sharing for Climate Change Adaption

System wise practical solutions for Adaptation to Climate Change and orientations for partnerships

System wise practical solutions for Adaptation to Climate Change and orientations for partnerships

Associated Organization: FARA

Adaptation is a matter of internally organized and/or externally driven transition of agriculture in the face of climate change: from Vulnerability to Resilience; from Adaptation to Mitigation; from piece meal adaptation to Transformational Process. Diagnosis of conditions hampering progress should identify the components for remediation and should support sets of proposals for addressing the issues, mobilizing the resource, organizations, attitudes.

Themes: Agriculture, fisheries and food security, Poverty and vulnerability, Water

Regions: West Africa

Countries: Ghana

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Adaptation to Climate Change is a matter of internally organized and/or externally driven transition. Three components are actually agreed upon for a transition of agriculture in the face of climate change: from Vulnerability to Resilience; from Adaptation to Adaptation and Mitigation; from piece meal adaptation to Transformational Process. A diagnosis of conditions hampering progress should identify the components for remediation and should support concrete and organized sets of proposals for addressing the issues at the scale they would affect the people, mobilizing the adequate resource, organizations and attitudes. This diagnosis brings to the identification of necessary partnerships.

The actual components hampering the development of Sub- Saharan African agriculture are very much intricate. The vulnerability of farmers should be perceived within the considerable shift that happened for 20 years in production systems and markets and within the growing scarcity of access to resource.. Intensification of farming systems is a key word for facing the growing demand for agricultural products while access to natural resources is dwindling. Poverty is the most limiting factor for reducing vulnerability and for addressing Adaptation to Climate Change. Any transition in agriculture requires investment. The productivity of labor is an essential lever for getting out of poverty and for mitigating risks. Improving the productivity of the land through inputs use is another lever if inputs are affordable to people. The weak development of irrigation results from poor governance, lack of institutional development, lack of coherent budget allocation, lack of investment in farming and poor market development. It contributes to the actual vulnerability of people. Public support to agriculture declined in most countries during the last 30 years. Changing trends for national budget allocation so that at least 10% would be allocated to agriculture as decided in Dar Es SALAM in 2004 is a pain-stacking exercise. Markets development is the most powerful instrument for developing income in rural areas and reducing poverty. Production to consumption chains should become more competitive r to better serve domestic markets and to conquer markets for exports. Giving to farmers a better share of the added values for their products is a critical component in the policy agenda. The actual lack of support from the financing system to agriculture is part of the actual crisis situation in agriculture in Africa. Social nets and security food stocks are insurances at state level for the poorest. The role of poor governance at country level on the vulnerability of people, on the lack of competitiveness and on the wastage of natural resource is documented. Inadequacy of local governance for adequately developing the land, harnessing risks and investing in value chains is part of the actual situation in most countries. There is an urgent need for institutional development that would promote low carbon based development in rural areas.

The transformational process required to face climate change should be system -wise conceived, inclusive and participative and should heal the main defaults and plagues of the current social and economic systems. Climate change is adding a dimension for risks management that has not been perceived so far at the right dimension. The transformational process needs an integrated action plan backed by adequate policies to support tools for development. It should combine investments, market support. It should improve access to resource for farmers and provide incentives for more appropriate agricultural practices that would empower organized rural societies. Generating and sharing accurate information is a crucial component. The development of information systems assisting the adaptation to climate change should be system-wise and provide for the promotion of local visions for a transformation process. It should encompass meteorological information; Information about inputs and outputs markets; information about the public organization of food security stocks and transparency about conditions for contributing to and accessing those stocks for farmers. It should consider information about access to land and to natural resource and about the development of systems and infrastructures harnessing natural resource. Information and organization should secure people, crops and livestock from emerging diseases, outbreaks of pests and epidemics.

The transformational process should address changes that would seriously affect agriculture. It should provide resilience to accrued temperature through the sheltering of crops by trees and through a coherent set of windscreens. It should provide resilience to the vagaries of rains through the combination of drought resistant cultivars, crops with shorter cycles and more resilient multi-cropping and multi-storey systems. Water harvesting at field level should be developed through no tillage systems and conservation agriculture, reservoirs and ponds and rain-fed systems assisted through complementary irrigation should be developed. There is a need to revisit the rationale of the location of agricultural activities in relation to the circulation of water in watersheds related to abnormal rains. Water flows should be harnessed in the watersheds. It requires combined actions for greening the land, for improving water infiltration in cropped soils and for storing run-off water at different levels in the watersheds as well as well monitoring normal and abnormal water flows in the drainage system.

There is an urgent need for the development of integrated financial systems combining credit, insurance, reinsurance and design of natural disasters involving public support to farmers to ease adaptation to climate change. There is a need for arranging buffer systems in the hands of farmers that would protect them against vagaries of market prices and also contribute to secure the food system. There is a need to design the relationships between district level security systems for food and provincial and national ones and to tie the system to imports in case of national shortages. There is also a need, possibly through regional trade, to organize the consumption of surpluses to normal consumption plus replenishment of security stocks in case of bumper yields. Considerable efforts are needed to invent accurate policies associating farmers’ organizations to solutions. Capacity should be provided for decentralized innovation while reinforcing capacity for centralized innovation. The promotion of farmers’ organizations for facing new challenges related to climate change should be the corner stone for any climate change adaptation strategy.

The need for partnerships is thus complex and requires organization from the national level to the provincial level and district level. It requires the combination of public initiatives with the contribution from the professional sector and from the private sector. 

For more information, please contact Alain Ange - Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Ghana, Accra.