Enhancing farmers adaptive capacity through learning journeys in Lushoto, Tanzania

Lessons learnt on adoption of climate-smart agriculture following a learning journey undertaken by farmers through the Farms of the Future (FotF) approach.

An understanding of factors that hinder or support the uptake of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) amongst smallholder farmers in Africa is essential for determination of concrete actions to undertake in order to scale up innovations. While initiatives have piloted various CSA technologies and practices in different parts of Africa, the uptake has tended to be low.

A recently published working paper ‘Uptake and dissemination pathways for climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices in Lushoto, Tanzania’ assesses smallholder farmer uptake of CSA innovations in Lushoto, Northern Tanzania. This follows a learning journey undertaken by these farmers through the Farms of the Future (FotF) approach. FotF uses a climate analogue tool, developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), to connect farmers to their possible future climates through farmer-to-farmer exchanges between spatial analogue sites (areas whose climate today appears to be similar to the future projected climate of a particular location). Linking farmers to areas experiencing their plausible future climate can facilitate knowledge sharing and learning, and provides opportunity for transferring technologies and innovations that can improve farmers’ adaptive capacity. By using the climate analogue tool, sites with a current climate similar to the projected future climate of Lushoto were identified.

Following the learning journey, this paper highlights the various technologies and practices, including institutional innovations farmers are using and documents farmer learning and dissemination pathways that can enhance uptake of CSA technologies and practices. The study also highlights existing institutions that can enhance uptake of CSA. The study combined household survey data, complimented with qualitative information from focus group discussions and key informant interviews.

Results show that improved crop varieties, agroforestry, and scientific weather forecast information are some of the main CSA practices that farmers were using. To minimize their risks and reduce vulnerabilities, farmers were diversifying and integrating five to ten CSA practices in one season. Matengo pits (a traditional soil and water conservation technique), Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCOs) and energy efficient cook stoves were used by very few farmers due to high initial investment costs and unsuitability to the area. In terms of sources of information on CSA, over 95% of the farmers reported receiving information orally from a variety of sources including government extension workers, seed companies, researchers, traditional experts, neighbors, radio agricultural shows, religious groups, farmer groups, and family members.

The authors conclude that use of the FotF approach to enhance farmer-to-farmer adaptation learning should be supported by follow-up training, especially for those technologies and practices where farmers have very limited knowledge. Continuous learning and sharing of CSA practices, climate and agro-advisory information should become an essential tool for farmers, financial institutions and agro-advisory service providers. This will inevitably enhance farmers’ adaptive capacity while improving their knowledge thereby changing their attitude towards climate-smart farming.

Download the working paper:

Nyasimi M, Radeny M, Kimeli P, Mungai C, Sayula G, Kinyangi J. 2016. Uptake and dissemination pathways for climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices in Lushoto, Tanzania. CCAFS Working Paper no. 173. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

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