CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE PRINCIPLES
By: Miss Thembile G. Shazi
Email: [email protected]
Table of Contents
2. Role of agriculture in greenhouse gas emissions
3. Climate smart agricultural options
3.1 Water Management
3.2 Soil Management
3.3 Climate smart crop production systems
Climate smart agriculture is very crucial because research has shown that between now and 2050, the global population will increase by one third and most of these two billion people will be living in developing countries, Food and Agriculture of the United Nations(FAO) estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by at 60% to meet the needs of the world’s population by 2050. Agriculture needs to transform itself if it is to feed so many people in future and it needs to provide the basis for economic growth and also poverty reduction (FAO, 2013). Climate change will make this difficult due to its adverse impacts on agriculture, requiring spiralling adaptation and related costs. To achieve food security and agricultural development goals, it will be necessary to adapt to climate change and be committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, this needs to be done carefully as not to deplete natural resources(Smith, 2007). Climate change adaptations are necessary in agriculture due to the fact that an agricultural industry is affected by many challenges including those that are brought on by climate change that leads to unpredictable weather patterns that are extreme such as floods, high temperatures, droughts etc. (Pearson and Langridge, 2008). These unpredictable weather patterns can lead to reductions in production and lower incomes in vulnerable areas. Global food prices are also affected by climate change as they will hike if food production courses are hit by extreme weather conditions. Developing countries, small scale farmers and pastoralists are hit hard by these changes as they already are dealing with degraded natural resources (FAO, 2013). Climate smart agriculture(CSA) contributes to the achievement of sustainable development goals, it integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) by jointly addressing food security and climate challenges. Climate smart agriculture is composed of 3 pillars which are: (i) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity incomes, (ii) adapting and building resilience to climate change, and (iii) reducing/removing greenhouse gases emission where possible (FAO, 2013). CSA is an approach to developing the technical, policy and investment conditions to achieve sustainable agricultural development for food security under climate change. The magnitude, immediacy, and broad scope of the effects of climate change on agricultural systems create a very compelling need to ensure comprehensive integration of these effects into national agricultural planning and investments programs. The CSA approach is designed to identify and operationalise sustainable agricultural development within the explicit parameters of climate change(FAO,2009a). This paper will briefly discuss the 3-important sustainable management practices of soil, water and cropping systems to adapt and mitigate climate change.
2. Role of agriculture in greenhouse(GHG) emissions
Agriculture and food systems are not only victims to climate change but also contributors to it, that’s why a more systemic transformation of agriculture and food policies is required. Most of the direct GHG emissions come from deforestation where forests and grasslands are converted to cropland, minimising carbon sequestration and increasing carbon dioxide emissions, fertilizers also contribute as well as livestock as they are a significant source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions(Sida, 2017).
3. Climate smart options
3.1 Water Management
Agriculture, the largest consumer of the globe’s freshwater resources, as it requires 70% of available supply of which 40% are used for rice production alone (Bouman et al., 2007). As the world’s population increases and consumes more food so does the usage of water, and water scarcity has become an important issue, calling for an improved water management system. In rainfed agriculture, improved water management systems include water harvesting, soil management practices that result to the capture and retention of rainfall. Under irrigated agriculture, water management for greater water use efficiency is achievable at many stages during the process of irrigation, from the source of water through conveyance and application systems, scheduling and availability of water in the root zone of plants (Nicol at al., 2015).
3.2 Soil Management
Improving and maintaining soil health is vital for sustainable and productive agriculture. Soil Management can help mitigate climate change through a range of interventions (Smith, 2007). Soils are an important sink for carbon(geologic carbon sequestration) and soil management interventions can harness soil carbon sequestration, for an example inclusion of trees on crop fields and improved grazing management of natural pastures are all practices that increase carbon sequestration. Emission of GIG nitrous oxide from inorganic fertilizers can also be reduced through integrated approaches to the management of nitrogen fertilizers (Richards at al., 2014). Climate smart agriculture in terms of soil management includes practices that will conserve the soil such soil cover with vegetation, minimising loss of nutrients, using organic fertilizers, contour ploughing with tied ridges, micro-catchments and surface mulching and reforestation(Smith, 2007).
3.3 Climate smart agriculture crop production system
Crop production, which is important to global food security is affected by climate change. This climate change dilemma is expected to cause substantial crop reduction of maize by up to 30% in Southern Africa by 2030 and up to 10% for South Asia for staples such as rice and more than 10% for millet and maize (Lobell et al., 2008). Sustainable crop production intensification(SCPI), a productive agriculture that conserves and enhances natural resources through an ecosystem approach that capitalizes on natural biological inputs and processes. SCPI contributes to increasing systems ‘resilience a critical factor in light of climate change. It can be achieved throughout farming practices that are based on improving efficiencies and managing biological processes (FAO, 2013).
SCPI is based on agricultural production systems and management practices that include maintaining healthy soil to enhance soil related ecosystems and crop nutrition, cultivating wider range if species(agroforestry), crop rotations, using quality seeds and planting material, high yielding varieties, adopting integrated management of pests, diseases and weeds and management of water efficiency. (FAO, 2009a).
Climate smart agriculture is as important as ever it was before now as we are headed for the times when food demand will be much higher than is now and the only way to meet those demands is implementing climate smart agriculture all over the world. To avoid global food prices hike and even lower food security on future, this approach will need to be adopted. This approach not only allows climate change mitigation and adaptation but also ensures that the natural resources are not depleted as seen on the literature that it involves strategies that protects natural resources like soils and water, and plants. Climate smart agriculture moves away from systems that are not stable and relying mainly on external inputs, instead it moves towards systems that are more efficient and resilient by relying on natural mechanisms. This approach is also allows an integration of systems, which may allow the natural processes to continue uninterrupted. If the world economy is to survive as agriculture plays a major role in it, climate agriculture is to be adopted and implemented by all agricultural industries especially those that are in the production channels. As we face unpredictable weather patterns that are extreme it is wise to implement an approach that help adapt and mitigate climate change now and in future.
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