Farmers from East African Climate-Smart Villages participate in Africa Climate Week

Farmers from East Africa Climate-Smart Villages, along with researchers, participate in Africa Climate Week in Accra, Ghana, in March 2019. Photo: S. Partey (CCAFS)

From East Africa to West Africa, farmers cross the continent and share their voices at Africa Climate Week in Accra, Ghana, in March 2019.

A delegation of six champion farmers from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs) of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) participated in the 2019 edition of the Africa Climate Week (ACW). Held in March in Accra, Ghana, the focal theme of the ACW centered around: ''Climate action in Africa: A race we can win.''

The ACW event was convened following the agreement of the Katowice Climate Package at COP24, in a new era of ambition – where all people, nations and organizations must come together to urgently increase action to meet the 1.5C temperature goal. ACW was therefore the launching pad of this new era, leveraging the power of cooperation and multilateralism, through finance, market mechanisms and technology.

The farmers from East Africa had the opportunity to share how they are forging the way ahead by advancing climate-smart agriculture (CSA) solutions that mitigate against, and adapt to, the impacts of a changing climate. They were also eager to learn more examples that were being showcased at the event.

Sharing perspectives from CSV farmers

“One of the biggest benefits of attending the ACW was the in-person access I had to experts. I learned about options for dealing with climate risks through conversation,” said Evelyne Kugonza, a farmer and leader of the Hoima Community Seed Bank in Western Uganda. Likewise, getting to meet fellow farmers was an important opportunity as they exchanged ideas in farmer sessions. These focused on the role of small-scale farmer-driven initiatives in building positive, food secure and climate resilient futures across Africa.

“I tapped into fellow farmers to acquire more agricultural knowledge. While I have a few farming friends I can call in Nyando CSVs in western Kenya, expanding my network gave me access to more ideas for my farm,” said farmer Hellen Were.

East Africa CSV farmers participate in sessions on resilient agricultural systems during Africa Climate Week. Photo: J. Recha (CCAFS)

Key messages for scaling investment to harness resilience

Farmer Caroline Odera from Nyando CSV in Western Kenya was a panelist in the dialogue "Scaling up private sector investment that builds on resilience in agriculture, alongside eminent scientists and entrepreneurs". The three key messages and actions from the dialogue were the following:

  • Change research for development (R4D) and partnership to meet client-targeted needs. Participants called for a renewed R4D system, grounded in co-generation and inclusivity, and harnessing the important role of technology in building resilience for African agricultural systems.
  • Targeted solutions for different agro-ecologies and farmer types, including social safety nets. Context-specificity is extreme in agriculture. To address this, technologies and market development must be highly tailored to specific agro-ecological zones and farmer types.
  • Need for strong farmer organizations. African agriculture is smallholder driven with limited clout, voice and financial muscle, particularly for women and youth. There is a need for strong farmer organizations that link to private sector and value chain actors and influence policy at all levels to reduce farmer transaction costs and improve market information.

This session served as a platform to identify opportunities to increase ambition and African voices for climate action on agriculture and food systems, particularly for the upcoming Climate Action Summit and COP25. The event showcased resilience-building actions being taken by African grassroots communities and smallholder farmers and explored pathways to boost support and farm and ecosystem levels. Initiatives, policies, technologies and financial innovations were also explored as means to build agricultural climate resilience at scale across Africa.

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John Recha is Participatory Action Research (PAR) Specialist for CCAFS East Africa.