by Olamide Oyinlola.
It is a statement of fact that climate change has been one of the frequent talked about discussion in recent years, especially from both local and international leaders. It is also no longer news that it is here and part of us now. We can’t wish it away just yet.
As a farmer, you must have already noticed that weather conditions are not as consistently predictable and favorable as usual. In recent seasons, planting dates have been delayed and you don’t get the production you expect. This is why it’s therefore safe to say climate change is real and right up in our faces.
What is Climate Change?
Climate Change which is also known as global warming, is referred to the rise in average surface temperatures on earth. A change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change attributed largely to the increase released levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air, which is produced due to the use of fossil fuels primarily by humans. The gases then trap heat within the atmosphere, which eventually has a range of effects on ecosystems, including rising sea levels, severe weather condition and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wildfires and harsh natural disasters.
Therefore, we know climate change is not favorable to agriculture, as our crops and livestock are highly dependent on the climate. Although, some can say these increases in temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) can sometimes improve some crop yields in some places, but to realize these benefits, nutrient levels, soil moisture, water availability, and other weather conditions must also be met.
Changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods could pose extremely more challenges than benefits for farmers and threaten farmer returns and income, which in turn affects food safety. Overall, climate change makes it more difficult to grow crops and raise animals using the same practice in the same geo-location as it has been done in the past.
This is why a quick solution has been introduced to manage climate change effects on agriculture and food sustainability while keeping the farmer in business through changes from what use to be the normal to modern farming practices and technology. This solution is Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).
What is Climate Smart Agriculture?
Climate-Smart Agriculture is the process of farming and doing agriculture in such a way that it sustains increase in farming productivity, enhances capacity of crops/livestock to adapt to extreme weather conditions, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions where possible on the geo-location of the farm.
Climate-Smart Agriculture comes with an approach to address interlinked climate change challenges in agriculture, which directly aims for three major objectives:
Climate-Smart Agriculture Objectives:
1. Sustainably increasing agricultural yield and productivity, to support increases in farm income and returns, food security and agricultural development.
2. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels.
Therefore, as a farmer, with the adoption of CSA practices, the farm is shielded from the severe effects of climate change and improves farm productivity, which in turn increases income turnover for the farmer.
Elements of Climate Smart Agriculture:
The approach of CSA involves different elements combined to suit local and specific unique contexts. It is not a practice that can be universally applied as a common standard.
It is unique to different area for different purpose, which has to do with proactive actions taken both on the farm and beyond the farm by incorporating technologies, policies, institutions and investment all at once. This brings about the different elements which can be integrated to climate-smart agricultural approaches.
Climate Smart Agriculture Practices:
To achieve an efficient agribusiness with CSA practices as a farmer, you must be ready for its diverse interventions on your farm. This ranges from the field level management practices on the farm, like change in specific farming systems, irrigation and pastoral practices, to local and regional policies applicable to your geo-location. This will help to meet the current market-oriented demand.
However, in practicing CSA, you have to be well informed and understand weather predictions with the role of climate in determining whether a specific practice or technology result is appropriate or not in your location. Eventually you have evidence of which practices and technologies may work or may not work there and why. It will help to reduce climate related risks on your farm production.
For example, in crop production, since you can’t depend on rainfall even during supposed raining seasons, you can take pro-active measures by checking out weather forecasts and predictions in coming days through technology platforms like Google, AccuWeather and so on. It helps give an insight in making the right decisions on your farm in terms of irrigation, application of fertilizers, herbicides with other crop protection practices and inputs.
You can also create water conservation and micro irrigation by digging ponds, well or borehole as a water source, to provide water to your crops, so that you aren’t caught off guard when weather predictions fail. Also know that Mulching, application of manure fertilizer and other organic practices can help to reduce emission of greenhouse gasses to improve food security and yield for crop production.
Generally, you can as well mitigate risk by introducing agricultural insurance like NAIC, AIICO, IGi etc., that protects your farm and agribusiness from damage caused by drought, irregular rainfall, diseases and pests due to climate change.
In conclusion, climate change is a major threat to food security among farmers. The challenges farmers face today are more complex than ever.
To achieve CSA, you have to diversify your agricultural activity to build climate smart farms, work with multiple stakeholders to evaluate and make more informed decisions and integrate those decisions into your local farm planning and practices.
Always know that climate smart investments will not only raise income now for you, but also raise future prospects for generations to come.