A step-by-step guide to climate resilience in agriculture

Improving farmers’ climate resilience many times goes hand in hand with reducing their agricultural emissions. Photos: G.Smith (CIAT), N.Palmer (CIAT), N.Palmer (CIAT), G.Smith (CIAT), S.Malyon (CIAT)
Nov 6, 2015

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Lili Szilagyi (CCAFS)

What are the necessary steps for making 500 million farmers climate-resilient in 10 years?

Five years of research by CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has focused on seeking solutions to help the world's poorest farmers become climate-resilient. Ensuring that our future is food-secure is a challenging task but not an impossible one. According to Ram Badan Singh, Chancellor, Central Agricultural University of India:

“The focus should be on accelerated, sustained, inclusive, pro-women, pro-poor and pro-youth development.” 

A new CCAFS booklet outlines six essential steps needed to make this happen:

Step 1: Put the right technology into farmers’ hands

Success stories from around there world prove that climate-smart agriculture increases productivity and builds resilience. Farmers must be equipped with the appropriate technology in order to effectively adapt to climate change.

Read more: Laser land levelling: How it strikes all the right climate-smart chords

Step 2: Get farmers insured

Climatic extremes challenge the capacity of small-scale farmers. Establishing index insurance schemes in agriculture enhances climate resilience and can help farmers make much-needed investments in climate-smart technologies.

Read more: How can index insurance protect farmers against climate-based risks?

Step 3: Deliver climate forecasts directly

Variable weather makes it difficult for farmers to know what to plant and when to plant. Climate information is therefore important to send to farmers through the most effective communication channels such as mobile phones and interactive radio programming.

Read more: There once was a woman named Mariama

Step 4: Enhance the national enabling environment

It is crucial that national policies support climate-smart agriculture. According to Roberto Ridolfi, Director, Sustainable Growth and Development, Directorate Development and Cooperation, European Commission: “creating partnerships which put farmers first and involve national governments, private sector and civil society is critical to ensure that smallholder farmers combine their knowledge with research findings to develop new practices.”

Read more: Informing national climate mitigation and adaptation plans in Latin America

Step 5: Inform global policies and processes

Tacking issues of climate change within major development initiatives can be a real challenge. CCAFS partners with nearly 900 diverse organizations, including governments, research organizations and farmer networks to bridge the gap between research and policy.

Read more: Backed by solid science, agriculture climbs the international climate change agenda

Step 6: Scale up climate investments in CSA

Climate-smart investments are needed so that farmers get the best available assistance to cope with climate change.

Read more: Climate-smart insurance for weather risks: Enhancing farmers' adaptive capacity

These six steps to success can best be taken if researchers involve civil society, farmers and youth, and, as Lindiwe Sibanda, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Mission, FANRPAN said: "equip them with knowledge that they can use in their policy advocacy efforts. Researchers also need to know how to communicate with these stakeholders, we need to greatly improve our understanding of what is needed for behavioural change."

Download the booklet: Six steps to success. How to make 500 million farmers climate-resilient while also reducing their agricultural emissions. Lessons learnt from 5 years of CCAFS.