Issues on, and concern about, the impact of climate change on agriculture, including climate-smart technologies, are only beginning to gain prominence. The majority of researchers and practitioners in the field are largely unaware and need retooling. This sub-theme provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their experiences on how those in the field can be retooled to enable them cope with the new demands.
In Africa, Agriculture is one of the key levers to meet the rampant food and nutrition security, economic and environmental challenges, hence contributing to the achievement of sustainable development goals. However, climate change and variability are tangible realities in various countries of the continent, their negative effects are actual, increasing and would be worse in the future if adequate measure are not taken. The shift towards a climate smart agriculture (CSA) is imperative not only to adapt but also to mitigate climate change and variability. Youth and Women have to be considered in this shift so as to enable them to fully participate and benefit also outcomes from innovations in farming practices.
The rationale is that, CSA is relatively recent in Africa. Its development and scaling have to be gender sensitive to consider and harness the diversity of farmers’ profile. This require a transformation of agricultural innovation systems. This transformation can be achieved only if there are adequate investments in capacity development for agricultural stakeholders at individual, organisational and system levels to address challenges related to innovation, generation and management of new knowledge and learning processes for the promotion of CSA. Technical capacities of a critical mass of field operators (NGOs, Producers organisations, extension services etc.) should be strengthened to provide farmers with the support they need adopt climate smart agriculture hence be able to continue farming and face risks of climate change and variability. There is necessity of building enabling policy and regulatory frameworks through adequate strategic orientation and improved coordination of agricultural, climate change/environmental and food system policies. Moreover, transition to CSA requires increased and improved financing. There exist opportunities at local and international levels, but local actors need to be sensitized and to develop capacities that will enable them to tap into those opportunities as well as to be more familiar and harness the potential of new policies, regulatory mechanisms, community frameworks and international conventions related to the climate change. Strengthening capacities of organisations will enable them to design and implement CSA plans and programmes and mainstream best practices related to climate change adaptation in agriculture.
Though CSA is quite recent in most African contexts, there exist several past or initiatives potential bearing interesting lessons to learn regarding capacity development. The AFAAS Africa Extension week offers a unique opportunity to share these lessons and experiences, but also to discuss key areas for future investments on capacity development for successful scaling of CSA.