March 26, 2014

What Exactly Is Climate-Smart Agriculture?

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) acknowledges the fact that climate change is a crosscutting issue with the need for an integrated approach to food security, environmental quality, human welfare and other development goals. Agriculture is uniquely situated between climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, because it is both a major contributor to the world’s changing climate as well as a vulnerable socioecological system. Thus, transitioning to CSA requires a landscape approach that considers the multifunctionality of agricultural practices and the need for cooperation at many levels and across all sectors.

Sometimes, it helps to see a practice in action. In Niger, a landscape approach to farmer-managed natural resource generation provides a strong example of CSA. Traditional woodland management was expanded from forests to farmland by strategically planting and allowing naturally germinating trees to integrate with crops. Food security, nutrient-rich fodder trees and fertile topsoil have all increased. Diversified livelihoods make for better adapted communities, while mitigating the contributions of agriculture to climate change.

What methodologies can be adopted to make CSA attainable in all landscapes? A group of participants from the 2013 Climate-Smart Agriculture Global Science Conference found themselves asking the same question. They set out recently to answer it in a short paper that summarizes the main concepts, goals and approaches to CSA. However, because climate-smart agriculture is highly context specific, everyone involved has something to contribute to the conversation. What stakeholders must be involved to ensure the sustainability of CSAs in your landscape? What methods have you seen to be successful? What other examples can provide inspiration for those interested in transitioning to CSA?

Photo: CIFOR on Flickr

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  • Jennifer
    March 27, 2014 at 6:12pm

    Right now, I’m working on creating a modified IPM system for new farmers. A big part of protecting the surrounding ecosystem is working with, not against, the species considered to be “pests.” So I’ve encouraged my readers to make wildlife records and set thresholds so that they can only take action if absolutely necessary, and can report significant changes in ecological data if need be. Most farmers keep records, so this is only adding one (hugely beneficial) step to an already common practice. I wrote about IPM at and created a template log book for first-time gardeners and farmers as well. That’s one idea, at least!

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