By: Naomi De Groot (Communication Officer PACCA)
It is not something that will happen somewhere far away in the future; or that will take place on other side of the globe. Climate change is directly influencing the rain patterns in Lushoto district, in the West Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. Consequently, farmers living off the fields here are learning to live with these new circumstances. Adapting their ways of sowing, fertilizing and irrigating is the only way farmers in Lushoto can ensure enough food to feed their children and the rest of the country.
The interdisciplinary project Policy Action for Climate Change Adaptation (PACCA) working together with teams from International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) talked to these farmers and their local government in order to map in what ways they are adapting.
Taking on a new method of farming is not just about which practices work best. According to the farmers themselves, how well one can adapt to the challenges of climate change is greatly determined by someone’s well-being.
Well being relates to the economic, social and environmental status of a farmer in both the present and in the future. In Lushoto, farmers are characterized as worst off, best off and mid-well being families. Best off farmers are described as well educated men and women owning valuable assets; livestock, farms, businesses and houses. Farmers have constant and regular income, they use improved varieties of seeds and are food secure. Worst off farmers do not have many assets; farmers do not own farms or houses and for those who do, houses have thatched roofs and dirt floor. Farmers are food insecure and are usually unemployed or depend on primitive employment. Mid-well being farmers are educated and food secure. They have assets such as houses, usually operate small- scale businesses or are small scale traders and land owners.
Other factors that impact which methods are best used to adapt are the ago-ecological zone in which farmers live, how labor intensive the crops are, know how and availability
Agroecological zones and CSA adoption
For high altitude area, recommended practices include: implementation of cut and carry, optimal use of fertilizer, silvo-pastoral system, crop rotation, water harvesting, minimum tillage and intercropping. For lower altitudes the practices included: early planting, Optimal use of fertilizer, Intercropping, Cut and carry, Terracing, Water harvesting, silvo-pastoral system, Strip cropping, Crop rotation and Composting.
A workshop was organized to capture experts – agricultural, environmental, climate and gender experts from a range of institutions – opinions on adaptation and locally appropriate Climate – Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices. Similar to the farmers, the experts used agro ecological characteristics as the basis for selecting CSA practices and gave recommendations for the These practices have also been examined by experts; people from agricultural, environmental, climate and gender institutions whom were also interviewed on their opinions and climate smart practices. These experts, who also took into consideration the different agro ecological areas for their recommendations, urge that it is important that these practices are shared and up scaled.
Read their recommendations: Download report
Increasing smallholders awareness of CSA
This knowledge must be shared. A good way of providing smallholder farmers with this valuable information is the use of privately and publicly owned demonstration plots. A tool that has been successful already for education smallholder farmers in Lushoto, according to the experts interviewed during this PACCA research.
Having climate smart agricultural practices incorporated in national policy will also stimulate adaptation by farmers. The experts also called for more research on these practices; costs-benefit analyses should be considered before out-scaling and further implementing these climate smart practices. And that is precisely what the PACCA project will do within the Lushoto site in the next coming months….
The Policy Action for Climate Change Adaptation project is a multi-disciplinary research project on climate change in Uganda and Tanzania. During four years a wide range of research results will be made available to policy makers through direct engagement and a multi stakeholder platform; the Learning Alliance. This Learning Alliance can again call for new research to answer specific issues raised by policy makers. In the end aiming to ensure that climate smart agricultural practices are adopted through out the region.
Naomi De Groot is a communications officer for IITA Uganda and a freelance videographer for CSO’s at See OurStory.org.