Theme and Sub-Themes

AFAAS and SASAE together with DAFF will be holding a joint conference on the theme of

“Scaling up climate smart agriculture (CSA): integrating youth, women, and the digital revolution”.

The need for climate-smart agriculture for the world’s 500 million smallholder farms cannot be overlooked: they provide up to 80 % of food in developing countries, manage vast areas of land (farming some 80 per cent of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia) and make up the largest share of the developing World’s undernourished. As the most vulnerable and marginalized people in rural societies – many of them are women heads of household or indigenous peoples – smallholder farmers are especially exposed to climate change. Scaling up Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is multifaceted because it involves more than scaling up technological innovations in agriculture. Scaling up, as defined by the World Bank (2003), is “to efficiently increase the socioeconomic impact from a small to a large scale of coverage”, referring to the “replication, spread, or adaptation of techniques, ideas, approaches, and concepts (the means), as well as to increased scale of impact.

Furthermore, described by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in 2010, CSA is believed as an integrative approach to addressing the challenges of food security and climate change. CSA sustainably increases crop productivity, builds resilience through climate change adaptation, and reduces GHG emissions Envisioning, implementing and monitoring CSA requires integrating biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional dimensions, with careful attention to the issues and interactions of these dimensions at different scales. Therefore, successfully scaling up CSA requires identifying and promoting appropriate practices, technologies or models (new, improved, adapted) within favourable enabling environments comprising supportive institutional arrangements, policies and financial investments at local to international levels. Anticipating potential opportunities and bottlenecks to scaling up CSA, such as market and policy drivers, will be central to implementing CSA at scale.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach to reorienting agricultural planning and investments to better achieve three main objectives: improve food security, support climate change adaptation and reduce agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in developing countries. The FAO defines CSA as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.” Since the term was coined in 2009, CSA has seen both incredible appeal and strong opposition. The concept has galvanized great public and private sector support for its potential to join the global agendas of development, agriculture and climate change under one brand. At the same time, it has raised concerns that some aspects of CSA, in particular GHG mitigation, will be promoted at the expense of food security and adaptation. As with any potentially transformative approach, the actual outcomes of CSA will be most beneficial when interventions and investments are informed by diverse knowledge sets and community priorities.

Generally, scaling up CSA is as a long-term, non-linear process that will often require combining generalized and context-specific approaches and complex leadership. There is no blueprint for scaling up CSA, consequently, dynamically combining horizontal i.e. replication of promising or proven practices, technologies or models in new areas or target groups; and vertical i.e. institutional and policy change, scaling approaches in response to specific geographical and institutional needs.

There is a growing consensus that climate change is transforming the context for rural development, changing physical and socio-economic landscapes and making smallholder development more expensive. But there is less consensus on how smallholder agriculture practices should change as a result. The question is often asked: what really is different about ‘climate-smart’ smallholder agriculture that goes beyond regular best practice in development? AFAAS Africa wide Extension Week, will bring different experts and practitioners to discuss and share experience, innovations and technologies based on this theme.

The joint conference will focus on the following sub-themes:

  1. Integrating youth and women in CSA
  2. Scaling up ICT innovations for CSA
  3. Scalable CSA technologies and innovations
  4. Capacity development for scaling up CSA innovations
  5. Knowledge management for CSA
  6. Innovation for entrepreneurship