An Introduction to Climate Smart Technologies Within the Agricultural Industry

With an increasing population and diets changing constantly, the demand for food production is reaching its tipping point (Climate-Smart Agriculture, n.d.). Food production entails transforming raw materials from the farm into a nice meal in your home or other food processing industries. However, harvesting these raw materials globally is becoming harder with the imminent issue of climate change (Climate-Smart Agriculture, n.d.). Climate change is changing the rate at which we can produce raw materials, causing problems that were once non-existent. These problems may not directly affect the average consumer, but farmers are continually impacted by climate change, and this affects their ability to maintain healthy farms.

The Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture

Most of us have heard that climate change is an issue. We have heard of greenhouse gasses causing global warming and impacting our natural ecosystems. However, climate change does not end with global warming. 

Let me introduce you to Robin Tunnicliffe, a Canadian farmer for over 20 years. She grows an assortment of crops and vegetables and serves as one of the primary sources of raw food materials for her local community and restaurants (Climate Atlas of Canada, n.d.). When Tunniclife initially started farming, she found that it was easier to predict weather conditions and patterns for the “prime time” to grow her crops and vegetables; however, now, with climate change and erratic weather patterns, she finds that it is much harder to predict and keep her crops strong and healthy (Climate Atlas of Canada, n.d.). 

In addition to this, climate change also affects agricultural pest control strategies. Typically climate and weather patterns indicate to farmers when pests and diseases will spread within their crops. However, with the uncertainty of weather patterns that result from climate change, farmers will now have to invest more in herbicides, pesticides, and other defenses to ensure their crops remain healthy (Climate Atlas of Canada, n.d.).

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) to Address Climate Change – Adapted From the The World Bank

“A 2020 report discovered that nearly 8.9% of the global population is hungry, and this will increase by about 60 million in the next five years” (Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020). Given the current context of climate change (which is characterized by an increase in natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, invasive pests, etc.), tackling food insecurity will only continue to be more difficult as the World needs to produce about 70% more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people (Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020). The concept of climate-smart agriculture has been developed to address these challenges in agriculture. This (climate-smart agriculture) refers to an agricultural approach aimed at management practices that lower greenhouse gasses; and increase the efficiency of resources and the resilience to changing climate while continuing to support innovation and ensure food security for all (Climate-Smart Agriculture, n.d.).

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes, cropland, livestock, forests, and fisheries that address the interlinked challenges of food security and accelerating climate change. It aims to achieve 3 outcomes:

Increased Productivity: This outcome implies producing more and better quality food that is nutritious, as well as securing and distributing to at least 75% of the world’s poor who reside in rural areas and primarily rely on agriculture for their livelihood.

Enhance Resilience: This outcome aims to reduce the susceptibility to droughts, pests, diseases and other climate-related risks that affect crops and other farming practices, and to enhance the capacity for raw materials to grow and handle stressors that are unusual such as unexpected season changes and weather patterns.

Reduced Emissions: Aim to achieve lower emissions for each calorie or kilo of food produced, as well as avoiding deforestation from farming practices and investigating different ways to capture carbon into the atmosphere.

Before implementing CSA practices in a global south country, there needs to be an in-depth analysis of the land and what needs to be a priority for the people. CSA practices may include but are not limited to farmers having access to specific resources such as tree seedlings, seeds, or fertilizers. Numerous technologies and solutions to implementing CSA focus on limiting waste, maintaining proper land and soil practices, reducing water consumption, etc. When the CSA is implemented, the aim should be to achieve the triple-win, and meet the specific needs of the locality where it is implemented. Before implementing CSA, localities need to first assess their status on each of the three outcomes in order to determine which outcomes they need to focus and invest more on.

We must change how we plan, invest, and farm in the agricultural industry to address climate change. With proper CSA practices, sustainable agriculture strategies can be effectively implemented. The essential goal of CSA is to support countries in the global north and global south that need proper agricultural practices and systems so that food and nutrition security is guaranteed. Implementing CSA will enhance growth in the experience and knowledge of sustainable agriculture. It would also promote agricultural systems that utilize ecosystem services to support productivity, adaptation, and mitigation (Lipper et al., 2014).  All parts of society (public, private, and civil) need to understand the importance of CSA and its great potential in addressing the impacts of climate change on agriculture (Lipper et al., 2014). The hesitancy to implement CSA could result from the fact that it is a problem-based approach. What this means is that, the effectiveness of CSA is often measured using short term results, and if these short term results do not measure up to what has been invested or done, it creates uncertainty if these methods can be relied on or are effective, whereas in the long-term it could actually be worth it. This hesitancy, unfortunately, leads to a further gap in evidence in favor of sustainable agricultural practices. This further emphasizes the need for studies and research to be done to understand how to implement effective farming practices and what constitutes “climate smartness” in different social, and economic contexts (Lipper et al., 2014).  Therefore we need collective action, resources, and the understanding of all people in local and government levels to notice that CSA is a promising system that can be used to help address climate change and support sustainable agriculture practices.

CSA in Practice

The World Bank is actively engaged in developing and implementing solutions to support the adoption of CSA in several countries. Some of these countries include:

Brazil: In Brazil the country has implemented a project entitled “Sustainable Production in Areas Previously Converted to Agricultural Use Project” . This project focuses on implementing  innovative approaches that promote low-carbon agriculture while boosting profitability in the private sector. This project focuses on providing skills, technical assistance and training on sustainable land management practices. It is predicted that these practices and information will contribute to the carbon sequestration of 7.4 million tons of CO2 over the next 10 years.

China: The Integrated Modern Agriculture Development Project was implemented in different cities in China. This project was aimed at sustainable and climate resilient agricultural production systems.  China invested in irrigated agricultural infrastructure, enhanced climate smart agricultural practices, as well as institutional strengthening and capacity building. Implementing these practices contributed towards expanding climate-smart- agriculture through better water use on farm land, and new technologies to improve soil conditions and food production.

Morocco: The “Green Generation Program -for- Results” aims at economic inclusion of youth in rural areas, and improving the efficiency and sustainability of agri-food value chains. This goal is to strengthen climate resilience and food insecurity. It also highlights the importance of sustainable agricultural practices, and promotes innovative ways of using CSA practices.

Now that you’ve learned about CSA, I encourage you to look within your own local government to see what is being done to address the impacts of climate change on agriculture. If nothing is done, I encourage you to support your local farmers in fighting climate change by proposing CSA.

References

Agriculture and Climate Change | Climate Atlas of Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2022, from https://climateatlas.ca/agriculture-and-climate-change

Climate-Smart Agriculture. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2022, from https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climate-smart-agriculture

Dinesh, D. (2014, September 23). Climate-smart agriculture: balancing trade-offs in food systems and ecosystems. https://ccafs.cgiar.org/news/climate-smart-agriculture-balancing-trade-offs-food-systems-and-ecosystems

Lipper, L., Thornton, P., Campbell, B. M., Baedeker, T., Braimoh, A., Bwalya, M., Caron, P., Cattaneo, A., Garrity, D., Henry, K., Hottle, R., Jackson, L., Jarvis, A., Kossam, F., Mann, W., McCarthy, N., Meybeck, A., Neufeldt, H., Remington, T., … Torquebiau, E. F. (2014). Climate-smart agriculture for food security. Nature Climate Change 2014 4:12, 4(12), 1068–1072. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2437

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. (2020). The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. https://doi.org/10.4060/CA9692EN

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