Climate-smart agriculture has to be
about the whole agri-food system. We see climate-smart agriculture as fully consistent and aligned with food security goals. We see actually quite a range of activities
going from the field scale all the way up to the landscape scale help develop
an overall strategy and and much broader scope for climate-smart agriculture. The
opportunities that await us are really fully consistent with economic
profitability drivers. These issues are seldom separate or operate in
isolation. So you don’t just have a weather event unconnected to an
economic event. Although we tend to focus on production and at the farm level agriculture is much broader than just
production and we need to consider how we’re addressing climate across our
values chains which would be in things such as trade and processing. The way that farmers
may engage in agricultural practices on their on their small plots is obviously
situated in a social context and an ecological context. I think we need to be thinking
about social differentiation when we roll out interventions related to water
and related to climate-smart agriculture more generally because we need to make
sure that these interventions are reaching the most vulnerable members of the community. These maybe women. These maybe the poorest so
we need to think about the intersection of all these different characteristics
such as gender age marital status and ethnicity, class. There’s so many issues
that we need to consider when we’re rolling out these interventions so that we really make sure that the
people who need the greatest help are getting it. Gender underscores everything that we do.
In many ways women farmers are particularly vulnerable because they’re
saddled with greater responsibilities in the household not only growing food that
families will eat but they also have the responsibility of gathering water
sometimes walking long distances to collect water. Women have the
responsibility of collecting firewood again walking long distances to collect
cooking fuel and because of this they’re often unable to participate in
agricultural extension activities like training on some of these improved
technologies. So as researchers and development practitioners we’re looking
for ways that we can reach women farmers in different ways rather than the
conventional approaches which are probably better suited for men farmers. We have to figure out ways to capitalize African agriculture and I think what we’re going to
see is that climate-smart agriculture is wholly consistent not just with environmental
drivers but also with economic drivers. Many of those kinds of value change and
economic opportunities have very significant gender opportunities
associated with them. So it’s a win-win-win that triple win that we like
to talk about in climate-smart agriculture. We often have
closely held assumptions about the linkages between what goes on in the
farm and the impacts of the larger landscape and those assumptions are
often poorly examined. Using an approach called participatory system dynamics
modeling we’re able to test those assumptions to see if they in fact, make
sense, are valid and if they are not, then it allows us to shift our priorities to
where they can have the greatest development outcomes. I would like to think that one of the
new tools that is getting to farmers more and more is just the perception, it’s odd to say that it’s a tool, but the perception by the International
Development Community that the social issues the social networks the
community issues are probably the greatest tools that communities have to
deal with these things. System dynamics models have been
employed from everything from public health in the way that diseases spread to
the way that agriculture interacts with its own environment. But, at the same time
they can really use more information and figuring out how to work that within
their system, building it on the information that they already have and the things
that they already know. But, the point here is that we can always do better. Now I am hopeful that in the future we can build agricultural systems that spare
more land and share more with the rest of the planet, but we’re gonna have to
focus on that. That requires really focusing on things way beyond just yields of a few basic staple crops per land area.