Cultivating climate resilience: the Shea value chain

Cultivating climate resilience: the Shea value chain

The economy of Burkina Faso remains relatively undiversified and is strongly driven by the climate-sensitive agriculture sector. Burkinabe agriculture is known to be mostly extensive and not highly productive. Major physical constraints, including climate induced variations in rainfall distribution, increased severity and frequency of droughts and soil degradation are a threat to agricultural production and exports as they harm production and provoke volatility in commodity prices. Overall, climate change presents a ‘threat multiplier’ to the Shea value chain, interacting with other non-climate factors characterising the wider Burkinabe environment, economy and society. The Shea tree is considered a vulnerable species that is deemed to be more at risk from human practices than climate change.

Faced by the paradox of high economic growth and difficulties in eradicating poverty, Shea is an important resource in Burkina Faso. Shea production helps reduce poverty through exports and increases food security among the population by providing subsistence. At the same time, although it is affected by climate variability and change, the Shea tree has characteristics that make it a resistant crop, while its genetic diversity gives it high spontaneous adaptive capacity and enables domestication. Shea is beneficial to the overall resilience of the ecosystem, maintaining soil fertility and biodiversity of flora and fauna.

This paper examines the likely impact of climate change on communities engaged in Shea production and trading in Burkina Faso. It presents the results of a climate-resilient value chain analysis that looks at the benefits for local communities of increased Shea production, including the resilience of the value chain to climate change impacts.

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