Learning Route: Practical Solutions to Adapt to Climate Change in Production&Post Harvesting Sectors

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Climate change is a driver of vulnerability for those people whose livelihood depends directly on natural resources. How can we mitigate these risks? Which ways can farmers use practical solutions to cope with the unpredictability of weather patterns?


From hay making practices to alternatives to rain-fed agriculture through irrigation and the use of shade cloths and the planting of climate-resilient varieties of seed, it is very apparent that farmers are trying to adapt practical ways.


Watch this insightful documentary on the best practices on climate change adaptation strategies that were gathered from the Learning Route on Practical Solutions to Adapt to Climate Change in Production and Post Harvesting Sectors that took place in between the 6th and 16th of November 2016 in Mozambique and Rwanda.


Some of the interventions featured include:

  • Diversifying cropping systems, experimenting with drought-resilient cassava varieties;
  • Promoting climate-resilient small-scale infrastructure introducing low-cost yet climate-resilient horticultural techniques;
  • Providing efficient water management structures in drought prone areas and establishing water user associations; and
  • Enhancing local meteorological stations in order to improve smallholders access to weather forecasting.
  • Private-Public-Producers Partnership (4Ps Model)
  • The Hub Operational Model as Product and Business Aggregation Points

The Learning Route was implemented by PROCASUR Corporation in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), responding to a survey done by IFAD-funded projects staff, local authorities and thematic experts on demand on learning priorities and existing best practices in the East and Southern Africa Region. In IFAD’s East and Southern Africa (ESA) Division, the top thematic priority identified was Climate Change and Natural Resources Management.


The host cases visited during the Route were: the Pro-poor Value Chain Project in the Maputo and Limpopo Corridors (PROSUL) and the Climate Resilient Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project (PASP) in Mozambique and Rwanda, respectively. It was implemented as part of the cross-regional component on Strengthening of rural associations and farmer’s organizations developed under the Large Regional IFAD-Procasur Grant Programme “Strengthening Capacities and tools to scale up and disseminate Innovations”(2016-2018).


The main aim of the learning initiative is to support collaborative learning and action between individuals and organizations linked to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) projects to introduce sustainable practices, adaptive technologies and climate-resilient post-harvesting infrastructures, technologies, and practices.


Please find more information on the learning initiative including the final report: here. Feel free to share it with your colleagues, partners, and networks. Kindly do not hesitate to let know us how your projects are going on with regards to the implementation of climate-smart adaptation strategies. We will be very happy to hear some good stories from you!

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James Ogweno and Catherine Mungai
C.Schubert (CCAFS)

A farmer shows off his farm managed as part of youth group activities in Western Kenya. Photo: C. Schubert (CCAFS)

Young people will determine the future of Kenya – “Nearly 80 per cent of Kenya’s population is aged below 35 years. This population is also the best educated in the history of this country, with about 80 per cent having post primary school education. The future of this country, especially the actualization of our national vision, depends on the hopes and aspirations of the youth,” said Dr. Alex Awiti, East African Institute of the Aga Khan University. He was speaking at a public seminar held on 3rd June 2016 at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. The meeting aimed to clarify key research, policy, practice and investment issues and explore the best approaches to promoting youth engagement in agricultural value chains in Kenya.

The seminar was jointly co-hosted by the ICRAF and the Aga Khan University and attended by a vast range of stakeholders focusing on youth empowerment and agricultural development as well as young farmers drawn from across the country. The objective of the discussions was to interrogate evidence from research and re-examine the future of agriculture given the prevailing attitudes of the youth and their participation in agricultural activities. The panels and roundtables were structured as follows:

1)     1st panel and roundtable: Focused on the existing research evidence on the attitudes and participation of youth in Agriculture in Kenya.

2)     2nd panel and roundtable: Explored the potential that agriculture presents for the youth in the context of existing policy, institutions and investment environment.

Kenyan youth need expert advice and incentives to embrace agriculture

In his opening remarks Dr. Alex Awiti mentioned that 11% of the total Kenyan youthful population (age 18-35 years) expressed willingness to engage in agricultural occupations with about 63% opting for public-private sector white collar jobs. These were excerpts from a countrywide survey undertaken by the East African Institute of the Aga Khan University. The survey sampled about 1,854 respondents aged between 18 and 35 to find out the aspirations, attitudes, concerns and values of the youth in Kenya today. He was particularly concerned about the negative perception that the youth expressed towards engaging in agriculture.

As a way forward, Alex called for collective effort from all stakeholders in supporting the youth in their plans to enable them engage in agriculture. Some suggestions included:

  • Development and implementation of clear policies and frameworks which target youth and agriculture.
  • Provision of incentives and credit facilities such as grants and loans.
  • Expert advice to the youth expressing interest in agriculture.
  • Value chain expansion and removal of limiting barriers (middle men) and bureaucracies that jeopardizes youth involvement in agriculture.

Inter-generational and gender issues should be addressed

Karen Musikoyo from the United States International University (USIU)laid emphasis on addressing systematic challenges passed on from our great grandparents as a viable solution to addressing the negative perceptions associated with agriculture amongst the youth. She pointed out that the Global Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship (GAME) centre had identified an opportunity for testing different business models to support the Kenyan youth and women to actively engage in profitable agribusiness. One of the key lessons learnt through their initiatives has been on the need to create opportunities for young and elderly farmers to engage and share ideas.

Regarding gender and land access, Dr. Grace Mwaura from ICRAF said that from time immemorial land ownership has been mostly associated with men in the society despite the fact that more women are actively engaged in agriculture. To address the situation, Grace acknowledged the need for policy reforms which focus on enabling women and youth have access to land, a necessary ingredient for agricultural activities. She however acknowledged that there are innovative ideas such as hydroponics (a technique for growing plants on water) which can be a solution to the land problem.

Photo: O. Freeman (ICRAF)

Member of a community-based nursery living adjacent to Mount Elgon National Park in southeast Uganda. Photo: O. Freeman (ICRAF)

Climate-smart agriculture as an entry point for the youth

Winnie Khaemba, an environmental enthusiast from the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) pointed out that the youth need information and technical expertise on agricultural diversification practices to encourage both long and short-term investments and returns. Winnie noted that this would ensure steady money flow and act as a remedy to the misconception placed amongst the youth of them being impatient especially when it comes to investing in farm produce with long maturity duration, for instance, sugarcane.

Winnie further acknowledged that climate change is real and the impacts are already visible citing examples of the latest Narok flash floods, and the Dadaab camp that is hosting climate change refugees. However from a professional point of view she highlighted some key opportunities that come with climate change that the youths can explore, such as climate-smart agriculture (CSA). In her examples she encouraged irrigation of the vast unutilized semi-arid lands for agriculture, adoption of scientifically approved drought resistant crop varieties during farming and crop diversification.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is engaging with youth through the climate-smart villages approach to undertake research and explore investment options on smart agricultural practices. Read more: The time is now to engage youth in agriculture.

Access a CSA guide to help you get started right through to implementation.

Testimonies from the youth engaged in agriculture

During the second session, a panel of four farmers shared their challenges and success stories.

“The journey has never been easy but with resilience and hard work I am happy to have reached this far. I started with 200 indigenous chicken two years ago, three months later, I lost 57 of my birds and that was the lowest point in my career as a young farmer. I felt discouraged and it was at that point that I attended a similar seminar which was a turning point to my life, they supported me and today I take pride in keeping a total of 5000 birds with major supply tenders in town” narrated a smiling poultry farmer.

The young farmer holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from University of Nairobi and graduated three years ago. Unlike other youths, he opted to pursue farming at home, a career mostly viewed by his peers as a “dirty job for the unlearned.” He said that while most of his peers opted to seek white collar jobs in urban areas, he has never regretted his decision to stay at his rural home to pursue his dream of becoming a farmer. He envisages scaling up his projects from the current three counties to 17 more in the next three years to come, an opportunity that will create more job opportunities for other youth.

From their experiences, the young farmers’ acknowledged that copy paste ideas never really work and before making any investment, a thorough cost benefit analysis ought to be conducted. They emphasized the need to consult experts in order to make informed decisions.

Looking forward, participants called for youth empowerment, moral and financial support to enable them shift their perceptions towards agriculture. The governments, with support from non-governmental organizations, international agencies and research institutions, need to establish enabling environments, including incentives, to support young population’s initiatives to take up agriculture. The existing pitfalls of food insecurity and climate change impacts can be addressed by recognizing the vital role of integrating CSA with local indigenous knowledge to ensure access to and sustainable use of innovative solutions by smallholder farmers.

Further reading

Kenya Youth Survey Report – http://www.academia.edu/21714062/Kenya_Youth_Survey_Report_2016


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CSAP Logo whiteThe Climate-Smart Partnership for Africa (CSAP Africa) is a voluntary arrangement that brings together regional economic communities (RECs), governments, private sector, international, regional and national inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organisations, farmer organizations, regional and national agricultural and climate research systems and farmers committed to transforming Africa’s agriculture in a changing climate through adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA).

CSAP Africa aims to catalyze CSA mainstreaming and share learning for fast tracking national readiness to implement CSA regional and country programs, enhance synergy between the ministries of environment and agriculture, and strengthen the capacity of governments to partner strategically with private sector in implementation of CSA country programs. CSAP Africa works with all the actors along the agricultural value chain and food systems, (including post-harvest losses, gender and youth), as well as bilateral and multilateral agencies to support consolidation of fragmented CSA approaches. The aim is to transform these into well-coordinated evidence-based multi-year CSA regional and country programs in the context of the CAADP regional and national agricultural and food security investment plans. Such programs would generate a greater multiplier effect on the national economy and build resilience and improve the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers while contributing to environmental sustainability.

Download the CSAP Flier here

For inquiries, please email: ccafsea@cgiar.org

Country CSA Program Key Result Areas

  • Improving productivity (what percentage increase is anticipated?).
  • Building resilience – Improving soil health, ecosystems/landscapes, water management and associated co-benefits.
  • Value addition, agri-business and post-harvest loss management.
  • Agricultural research, Innovations and Technology Development and Transfer.
  • Agricultural and climate knowledge management and application of ICT.
  • Extension and Agro-Advisory Services.
  • Opportunities for women and youth in CSA and agribusiness.
  • Trade and markets (domestic, regional and intra-regional trade) in the main agricultural commodities produced using CSA approaches).
  • Leveraging climate finance and private finance.
  • Performance Measurement Framework – performance indicators of key program result areas on productivity, resilience and MRV of co-benefits, in particular carbon sequestration.
  • Capacity development in CSA.

Read more on Kenya CSA program 

Read more on Tanzania CSA program 

Read more on Botswana CSA program

Read more on Uganda CSA program

Read more on Namibia CSA program 

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By Caroline Mwongera (CIAT)


“Our soils are very good!” reiterated participants in five participatory workshops conducted in Nwoya district, Northern Uganda. These workshops were organized by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in April 2015. The aim was understand the criteria farmers use to prioritize agricultural practices; develop a prioritized list of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices farmers would like to implement and comprehend the gap between awareness of practices and the use of these practices.
Indicators for good soils were highlighted by farmers as: low weed infestation, fast crop growth, high crop yield, soft soils that are easy to plough, soils with black humus material, low pest and disease prevalence, good soil texture and high moisture retention. A few farmers described poor soils: sandy soils, low moisture retention, stony soils, high weed infestation, declining yields and poor seed germination. Farmers use these indicators to decide whether or not to adopt particular CSA technologies.  Soil analysis results conducted in 2014 following Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) in Nwoya indicated poor soil health in the area; yet farmers perceived their soils to be quite healthy.

Photo: Caroline Mwongera

Blue cards were used to indicate poor soil quality, Kochgoma sub-county, Nwoya district (Uganda). Photo: C. Mwongera (CIAT)

Prioritizing climate-smart agriculture

When ranking the considerations farmers use to prioritize climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies, differences were noted taking into account gender and agro-ecological zones. For example, indicators ranked highest by women are yield, human health and knowledge on implementing the practice. Men considered land availability, yield and capital required to be the most important. Crop rotation ranked high among women living in the grassland, and rotational grazing among men. In the woodland zone, women prioritized the use of improved varieties and men identified water conservation technologies such as digging wells.

Way forward
From the prioritization workshop, the CIAT team will establish demonstration plots of the top ranked CSA technologies across the different agro-ecologies. Indicators selected by farmers in analysis of the trade-offs in adopting the prioritized CSA technologies will be included. The interplay between scientific analysis and local perceptions will permit promotion of locally appropriate and acceptable CSA technologies, improving adoption and outscaling.

The workshops advanced on knowledge from the climate-smart agriculture rapid appraisal (CSA-RA). Other objectives of these participatory workshops included: identify existing demonstration plots of CSA technologies; establish farmers’ preference on management and geographical location of CSA demonstration plots and inform IFAD-funded projects and designs on CSA demonstrations in the district and Acholi region.



This research is supported by the CIAT-led, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded project, “Increasing food security and farming system resilience in East Africa through wide-scale adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) “Policy Action for Climate Change Adaptation” project.

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