Making climate-smart agriculture work for the poor

Making climate-smart agriculture work for the poor

This policy brief focuses on the challenges in making climate-smart agricultural (CSA) production work for the poor, who will be the most vulnerable to climate impacts.

The brief highlights three main constraints:

  • Food insecure farmers find it hard to innovate and invest in better management systems when they are fully occupied finding sufficient food to survive.
  • Many CSA practices incur establishment and maintenance costs and it can take considerable time before farmers benefit from them.
  • Access to markets and capital are key constraints for resource-poor farmers, and limit their ability to innovate and raise their income.

Three main recommendations are also provided:

  • Development and climate finance programs must focus on improving livelihoods and income so that there is incentive for smallholder farmers to invest in CSA.
  • Combining practices that deliver short-term benefits with those that give longer-term benefits can help reduce opportunity costs and provide greater incentives to invest in better management practices.
  • National agriculture development plans with appropriate institutions at national to local levels, provision of infrastructure, access to information and training and stakeholder participation and, last but not least, improvement of tenure arrangements are necessary for long-term transformation towards sustainable intensification and management of resources.

The policy brief concludes with several ideas to overcome the challenges to introducing CSA, including:

  • Introduce more secure tenure. 
  • Overcome the barriers of high opportunity costs to land so that smallholder farmers can improve their management systems. 
  • Improve access to farm implements and capital.
  • Provide an enabling legal and political environment with an overarching national plan, appropriate institutions and effective and transparent governance structures that coordinate between sectoral responsibilities and across national to local institutions.
  • Improve market accessibility to enhance income generating opportunities provided by agroforestry.
  • Involve farmers in the project-planning process. 
  • Improve access to knowledge and training.

[Adapted from source]

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