Communications for development

G. Smith (CIAT)

Toolkit sparks crucial conversations on agroforestry and climate change

Southeast Asia

Development workers, agricultural organizations and government policy makers often give smallholders information rather than listening to what they have to say. Top-down, one-way communication means that information on how climate change affects farmers is sketchy. Without a clear understanding of what farmers think about climate change, farmers and local governments cannot work together to adapt to climate change.

CCAFS scientists at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) have developed a Talking Toolkit to help people who work with smallholder farmers in Vietnam and the Philippines collect reliable information on trees and agroforestry. In general, development workers know little about how agroforestry could help smallholders adapt to climate change. The toolkit, developed with support from CCAFS and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry, is freely available online. The questionnaires in the toolkit give examples of questions about climatic hazards that practitioners can use to draw out information from smallholders. The toolkit fills a huge demand for a practical tool to assess what smallholders know about climate change and, particularly, to assess how climate change affects their farming.

“I find the toolkit very useful, close to the reality and essential for researchers. Now I’m more confident in exploring and learn from farmers.” Student, workshop at Hanoi University of Agriculture, May 2014
The toolkit has been been designed to initiate clear communication about climate change and the ways to adapt to a changing environment

The toolkit has been been designed to initiate clear communication about climate change and the ways to adapt to a changing environment. G. Smith (CIAT)

By November 2014, views and downloads of the toolkit topped 5000, with users including research institutes, universities and development non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In Vietnam, researchers trained 71 university lecturers and 22 students to use the toolkit when talking with farmers. The information gleaned is likely to make a big difference to how local governments and smallholders work together to develop resilient agroforestry as a way to adapt to climate change in Vietnam. People who work with smallholders can also adapt the toolkit for use in other regions and in other farming systems. All they have to do is to change the examples of climatic hazards. The toolkit is a much-needed breakthrough in two-way conversations on adapting to climate change.