Stories tagged: climate change

#FillTheGap! Breadwinners and homemakers in Malawi

This is the final post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture. 

Malidadi Chilongo may only be 27 but she is already a small-scale farmer, a mother-of-four, and her husband’s second wife.

She met her husband when she was 15, fell in love, and married. She has a good relationship with her husband’s first wife, who has five children.

“I was nervous at first to come here but it has been fine,” she said. “We get along well. We help each other out – I care for her children and she cares for mine if we need to do other things.”

Continue reading

Helping Farmers Earn More at Less Cost Through Fertilizer Use Efficiency

Dr. Scott J. Angle, President and CEO of IFDC and Farming First supporter explains how farmers can be supported to keep their costs low and their yields high through efficient fertilizer use.

Fertilizer is one third of the agro-input technological trinity (improved seed, irrigation, and fertilizer). Its use has been particularly successful in addressing food security-related issues in several countries in Asia and South America, for example during the Green Revolution. However, judicious fertilizer use is an over-arching issue in both developed and developing economies. In sub-Saharan Africa, average fertilizer use is less than 25 kilograms per hectare, while parts of Asia and other developed economies face overuse or unbalanced fertilization. Both conditions lead to low crop productivity and declining soil fertility. Improving the “uptake efficiency” of fertilizers (that is, ensuring as much fertilizer is used by the plant as possible) can mitigate the climactic and social effects of both over- and under-use of fertilizers.

In Europe, North America, and many parts of Asia, the agricultural practice of allowing plant nutrient reserves to become depleted (nutrient mining) for farming ceased several decades ago. Unfortunately, nutrient mining continues in many other parts of the world. The low use or absent use of fertilizers and other nutrient sources not only makes the agriculture system more vulnerable to climate variability, it exacerbates climate change by reducing soil’s ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere. On the other hand, excessive and imbalanced fertilization results in soil acidification, eutrophication of water bodies, air pollution, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Toward helping farmers profitably practice low-emission agriculture, IFDC promotes climate-smart management approaches and technologies, including the use of balanced fertilizers, urea deep placement (UDP), and integrated soil fertility management (ISFM).

Balanced Fertilizers

Since losses associated with nitrogen-based fertilizers form a significant part of agriculture’s contribution to global GHG emissions, increasing nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is paramount. In developing countries, NUE can be as low as 30 percent, meaning plants use only 30 per cent of the nitrogen applied.

Our research demonstrates that improved management practices and balanced plant nutrition, including incorporating appropriate amounts of secondary and micronutrients (SMNs), increase nitrogen uptake and boost farm yields by 20 to 50 percent across various sub-Saharan soils and crops. These fertilizers also increase plant tolerance to drought and can improve water use efficiency by 250 percent. This use efficiency also results in more nutritional crops: IFDC found that some formulations can increase the amount of zinc in grains by as much as 65 percent.

Fertilizers that include appropriate amounts of secondary and micronutrients can increase yields by as much as 35 percent as seen in this maize demonstration plot.

Urea Deep Placement

IFDC has pioneered the development of UDP technology in several countries in Asia and Africa. The technology, the application of 1- to 3-gram urea briquettes 7 centimeters below the soil surface, decreases urea use by 30 percent while increasing yields by 15 percent in rice. Emissions from nitrous oxide, a GHG 40 times more potent than carbon dioxide, are decreased by 60 to 80 percent through the use of UDP.

With the assistance of the Government of Bangladesh, we helped more than 2.5 million Bangladeshi rice farmers adopt UDP. The savings produced, along with higher yields, has these farmers earning $220 more per hectare. Additionally, the Government of Bangladesh saves $30 million per year on fertilizer subsidies.

In Africa, the story is the same. In Mali alone, adopting fertilizer deep placement (FDP) on 5,900 hectares has saved nearly 457 tons of urea, allowing farmers to bring an additional 4,000 hectares under rice cultivation, producing an additional 14,000 tons of paddy rice production.

Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM)

Balanced nutrition and UDP are part of our ISFM approach. Other ISFM strategies include crop rotation, legume introduction, and crop-livestock integration systems.

Fertile and productive soils are vital components of stable societies, and ISFM strategies protect these. As one ancient Sanskrit text states, “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it, and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.” Our reliance on the soil is as strong today as it was then. Unfortunately, many soils have been mined by continuous cereal cultivation, producing a trend of decreasing yields and organic matter.

ISFM practices help reverse these trends by increasing yields and incorporating biomass back into the soil. IFDC-assisted farmers in sub-Saharan Africa using ISFM have more than doubled their productivity and increased incomes by 20-50 percent. In addition to increasing incomes, soil may be our strongest ally in practicing low-emission agriculture, as in only a matter of decades, soils benefiting from ISFM can sequester up to 1,000 kilograms of carbon per hectare per year.

ISFM techniques have helped many farmers, such as these Congolese women who learned improved planting techniques from Congolese League of Women Peasant Organisations (LOFEPACO).

The Next Steps

These current practices have ensured greater global food security and enabled farmers to profitably practice low-emission agriculture. Despite this, new and novel technologies will be needed to meet the challenges of a growing population while still safeguarding the environment. To this end, we must continue supporting research in these areas to bring about next generation fertilizers and management practices. This approach must transform the fertilizer industry across the entire value chain, starting with the research and formulation of new plant nutrition products and extending to enabling farmers to market higher quality products that are more nutritious and produced in an environmentally friendly manner.


10 Ways Agriculture is Getting Climate-Smart

As climate negotiations continue at COP23 in Bonn, Farming First takes a look at 10 stories of climate-smart agriculture in action in this latest supporter spotlight. Find out how Farming First supporters are helping farmers grow more, adapt to changing weather patterns and minimise their own carbon footprints.

1. WINnERS: Sharing Risk Through Innovative Insurance

WINnERS (Weather Index based Risk Services) is working to develop state-of-the-art weather and climate modelling technology to measure the risk exposure that retailers, buyers, banks and smallholder farmers will face in the future. This information is then integrated into agricultural insurance contracts that share risk between the various actors of a particular supply chain. Instead of having only farmers as the insurance policyholders, this means that everyone – buyers, banks, and producers – all take on some of the risk inherent in farming. So if it rains too much, not enough, or not at the right times, everyone is protected. Read more >>

2. Chemonics: Taking CSA Products to the Farmer

In recent years, persistent drought and unpredictable rainy seasons in Uganda have resulted in reduced crop yields and crop failure, pest prevalence, and increased post-harvest losses, threatening both livelihoods and food security. Chemonics is working with Feed the Future to train a network of village agents in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices, which the agents in turn promote to farmers. Village agents provide extension, inputs, and other products and services to farmers to help them increase the quantity and quality of their yields. Example CSA products include certified drought-resistant and fast-maturing seed varieties, micro-irrigation kits, and herbicide for conservation tillage. As of 2016, this project had enabled more than 150,000 farmers to adopt climate-resilient technologies. Read more >>

3. Access Agriculture: A Video Library for Smart Farming

Access Agriculture hosts “AgTube”, a library of videos filmed by farmers, for farmers in over 30 languages. Browse solutions for climate change in the search box. This video gives examples of water harvesting, on-farm trees, intercropping and soil conservation as ways for farmers to build resilience to changing weather patterns. Read more >>

4. Self Help Africa: Transforming the Village Where Nothing Grows

Temperatures in Burkina Faso can soar above 50 degrees. Almost nothing is able to grow in this extreme heat, which is continuing to rise. With the support of Self Help Africa, one women’s group in Gometenga village sees hope. They are being trained to grow vegetables, to irrigate their crops from a new well, and keep out grazing livestock. “If production is good, there will be something in the village for my son to come back from Ivory Coast to work on,” says Kangabega Ayesto. “It will show him that there are opportunities in Gomtenga to earn a living”. Read more >>

5. IFA: The Brazilian Agronomist Reducing the Emissions of Tropical Agriculture

Ethanol powers 40% of vehicles in Brazil and the market is expected to continue to rise. To make the transition from fossil fuels to biofuel a sound move both economically and environmentally, we need to keep sugarcane’s production emissions in check. An innovative use of fertilizer can reduce nitrous oxide emissions associated with sugarcane production by up to 95% Dr. Heitor Canterella of São Paulo recently won the IFA Norman Borlaug Award for his work in this area, to lower the emissions of tropical agriculture. Read more >>

6. Farm Africa: New Weather Stations in Ethiopia to Take Bite out of Climate Shocks

A set of new automated weather stations has been installed in Ethiopia to help pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities respond better to recurring climate shocks. A total of 25 solar-powered automated weather stations have been installed across Afar, Somali and SNNP regions. The stations supply localised, accurate and timely data to relevant government agencies and local communities, which will help communities predict the availability of water and grass for their livestock to graze on and allow government agencies to pre-empt and monitor extreme weather events. “The information we are listening to now is very useful. It is exact.” commented Ato Endashaw Lole, a local resident. “If the radio says there will be heavy rain, there will be heavy rain — and we’ll be ready for it”. Read more >>

7. CropLife International Food Hero Series: Tackling Climate Change and Soil Salinity in India

Dr. Ashwani Pareek received a call from his father to say that in his hometown of Sambhar Village in Rajasthan India, farmers were no longer able to grow crops due to increased soil salinity and climate change. Together with his wife, Dr. Sneh Latah Singla-Pareek, he is now working on breeding plants that can still thrive in these extreme conditions. Farmers that are struggling tell Dr. Pareek they would welcome drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant crops, in order to feed their families and continue their legacy of generations of farming. Read more >> 

8. One Acre Fund: A Climate-Smart Strategy for Farming in Africa

One Acre Fund is in the process of building Africa’s “largest multi-layer climate resilience shield” for smallholders. Guided by three principles: adaptation, mitigation and sustainable intensification, their work seeks to help farmers overcome the challenges of climate change. Interventions include crop insurance, and increasing crop diversity to ensure farmers can hedge against climate shocks. In recognition of the importance of healthy soils for increased water retention and building resilience to drought, One Acre Fund also provides ongoing training to farmers on integrated soil fertility management, providng products that build long-term soil health. Read more >>

Moses Odoli stands among his drought-affected maize crops in Western Kenya. Image credit: One Acre Fund

Moses Odoli stands among his drought-affected maize crops in Western Kenya. Image credit: One Acre Fund

9. IFDC: Micronutrients to Mitigate Drought Stress

According to a scientific publication released this year by IFDC and VFRC, micronutrients provide multiple benefits to crops, such as boosting crop performance under adverse environmental conditions. In particular, the paper demonstrates the effects of micronutrients in mitigating drought stress in soybean. Treatment of the plants with micronutrients mitigated the reduction of nutrient uptake under drought conditions. Nitrogen uptake was significantly increased. Similarly, zinc uptake and grain zinc content were significantly enhanced by the formulations. Therefore, agronomic fortification of zinc in food crops may be an effective strategy for increasing the nutritional quality of edible produce under water limiting conditions. Read more >>

10. AgDevCo: Bringing Irrigation to Sugarcane Production in Malawi

The arid land in Southern Malawi has forced communities into perpetual poverty and driven farmers out of business.  An investment from AgDevCo into the Phata sugar co-operative in Malawi made it possible to irrigate land for growing sugarcane.  “I’m one of many people in the nearby village, who are employed by the Phata co-operative to harvest sugar cane,” says Alice. “In the past, if I was lucky, I would get seasonal work but even that depended on the rain. Crops are now grown on irrigated land and there is work year-round. I have a steady income, which goes a long way to support my extended family.” Read more >> 

For more stories on climate-smart agriculture, visit our climate portal:

Webinar: The Role of Fertilizers in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

31st October 2017 – 4 pm CET


Climate change is pushing our food and farming systems to their limits. By 2050, 9.7 billion mouths must be fed, while rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events threaten crop production worldwide. This free webinar will showcase concrete solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation that the fertilizer industry and its partners are investing in, to help farmers become “climate-smart” and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The International Fertilizer Association (IFA), International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) will bring together leading experts in soil health and management from across the globe to discuss the latest innovations in their region that are already contributing to the global response to food insecurity and climate change.



  • Scott Angle, CEO and President, International Fertilizer Development Centre
  • Robert Norton, Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand, International Plant Nutrition Institute
  • Shamie Zingore, Director, Sub-Saharan Africa Programme, International Plant Nutrition Institute
  • Heitor Cantarella, Director, Soil and Environment Resource Centre at the Agronomic Institute of Campinas and winner of IFA 2017 Norman Borlaug Award.

Join the panel of experts to explore the following issues:

  • How can farmers build resilience to unpredictable weather patterns through fertilizer best management practices?
  • Which innovative fertilizer solutions are successfully helping farmers adapt to climate change in Australasia?
  • How can farmers in sub-Saharan Africa access accurate fertilizer recommendations?
  • What are the latest solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizers in the tropics?

Information Services Grow Resilient Agriculture

In this guest blog, John Corbett, Gabe Stalcup and Leila Al-Hamoodah of big data company aWhere, Inc. discuss the need for “information agile” agriculture that can help smallholder farmers adapt to a changing climate.

Increased weather variability and weather disasters are a manifestation of our warming atmosphere.  This variability includes shifting rainfall and temperature patterns, as well as a significant increase in extreme weather events.  Of course, these events and weather variability are rarely positive for agriculture.  Crops are vulnerable to extreme events, like droughts and floods, and extreme temperatures, both too hot and too cold.

With weather variability increasing the risk of poor harvests, farmers seek more information to guide their decisions.  This new information is balanced against the farmer’s local knowledge as they plan their farming practices, and includes anticipation of “normal” weather.

To build resilience and adapt to these changing weather conditions and possible weather disasters, farmers must leverage environmental information and translate it into actionable signals.  This type of adaptive farming is already the norm in the much of the United States and Europe. Wet spring? Farmers can swap long-season seeds for shorter-maturity seeds to account for the later planting.  Conditions suitable for a foliar disease in the forecast?  Farmers can spray the appropriate protection. This type of agile, information-driven farming continues to leverage more and more data to the point where variable-rate seeding, crop protection, fertilization and irrigation are all adopted, commercially viable, agricultural technologies.

The Need & the Opportunity

Agronomic weather information is one key element to dampening the impact of weather variability.  Big Data methods and analytics combine to create agricultural intelligence, which is useful to farmers adapting to a changing climate.  And getting the message to farmers across the planet is helped enormously by modern technology, such as the ubiquitous cell phone.  The expanding presence of cellular systems provides the communication infrastructure to close the loop on the “final mile”, as millions of farmers have recently become reachable this way.  It is estimated that there are more than 570 million farmers on the planet – most of whom are only now being connected, and, thus, are accessible to information services.

However, throughout most of the world’s smallholder farming areas, there is a distinct lack of truly “information agile” farming. Traditional practices often rule, and with weather variably increasing, the likelihood of crop failure due to extreme weather events also increases.  The newfound access to farmers via ICT is both an incredible opportunity as well as a tremendous challenge.  The current lack of information services provides an opportunity for ICT to assist in improving agricultural productivity, and innovation is rapidly coming to the agricultural value chain in smallholder farming areas. At the same time, millions of these farmers have never previously had access to a localized, short-term weather forecast, thus necessitating education and training surrounding the value and use of such forecasts.  Early assessments of the impact of information services to small holder farmers often note 30-50 percent increases in productivity – the upside is solid. Notably, the overarching impact of connecting smallholder farmers to information services extends well beyond agriculture, and includes the opportunity for improved human health, child nutrition, social movements, and, of course, general education.

Delivering localized, relevant agricultural information to smallholder farmers is perhaps the only way to mitigate the impacts of weather variability, but more importantly, the connection to the farmer enables a whole host of possibilities across the spectrum of needs. Leo Tobias, Director, Technology and Product at the Grameen Foundation, noted: “If an individual is plugged into the information system, they are in a position to adopt good agricultural practices.”   Good agricultural practices will help agriculture and address climate adaptation and resilience, or “climate smart agriculture”.  These practices, from information on when to plant, as rainfall onset has become more variable in many areas, to what crop or variety to plant, to crop protection and fertilizer timing advice, address the challenges of changing weather, agricultural resilience, and smallholder farmer adaptation.

Agriculture sits at the core of the development process: “If the history of development has taught us anything, it’s that a strong agricultural sector is a cornerstone of inclusive and sustainable growth, broad-based development progress, and long-term stability,” a report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs noted recentlySupporting agriculture delivers real returns, and innovation in information services is needed to achieve food security in the coming decades.  Across the agricultural value chain, information services serve to connect and optimize the food chain and make it more resilient.

The Information Solution

aWhere provides a range of timely agronomic and weather information to smallholder farmers, through NGO and on-the ground partners.  With more than 600,000 farmers globally, and over two-thirds of those in sub-Saharan Africa, we continue to learn how localized, up-to-date information impacts farming.  What we also have learned is that this connection to the farmer is a conduit that inspires innovation.

Localized and personal, trusted communication channels are viable and attractive to entrepreneurs.  Startups and emerging companies specializing in agriculturally relevant information vie for attention across the agricultural value chain.  The provision of information, and inputs, is a complex challenge with so many small businesses and the multitude of smallholder farmers. This complex challenge is risky and “paying down the risk” is where the blending of public and donor efforts with private, commercial endeavours can be quite enabling.  Timely information across the agricultural value chain is needed and necessary, but the introduction of new services is difficult in resource constrained areas.  As proof of viability becomes more pronounced, capacity building to encourage innovation is needed.  Communication channels along with public and donor support can be leveraged to create sustainable businesses supporting resilient agriculture.

For example, to encourage innovation in data-driven agriculture, aWhere hosts hackathons and data jams through its Hack4Farming series.  With events in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, these capacity-building efforts enable agricultural businesses, often with little information services, to meet-up with software developers for the express purpose of connecting big data methods to local business needs and challenges.  These events build a growing community in this ag-tech space, where startups can emerge and become sustainable, while commercial businesses work to make a more resilient agricultural value chain.  Meanwhile, on-the-ground startups like Esoko, iShamba, and FarmerLink lead the way in providing innovative and timely information to smallholder farmers, using aWhere’s agronomic real-time information.  With these final-mile connections, food security is greatly improved as existing information services can and will help with on-going adaptation and disaster mitigation.

Localized and timely agronomic information is a key piece of the puzzle to developing a sustainable and resilient agricultural system.  While more variable weather is here to stay, existing and yet to be developed agricultural information services can serve to dampen the impact of both long and short-term weather-based agricultural stress.  Given our changing climate, farmers need information to help them thrive with what the environment provides, as do input providers, markets, and actors all across the value chain.  While agricultural production shortfalls due to weather disasters and variability leave us vulnerable to food insecurity, building local capacity to connect data-driven science to smallholder farmers will reap dividends and build resilience.  Wherever trusted communication channels are in place, our risk is reduced.

This article appears in the May edition of WFO’s F@rmletter. Featured photo credit: V. Meadu (CCAFS)

Lawrence Biyika Songa: The Cost of Climate Change for Ugandan Farmers

Q&A with Lawrence Biyika Songa, COP representative for Uganda

At the COP22 conference on climate change, held in Marrakech in November, the spotlight fell squarely on Africa and the impact of global warming on agriculture. Farming First caught up with Lawrence Biyika Songa, Uganda’s representative at the talks, to delve deeper into the issues facing farmers in the country.

FF: How is climate change affecting farmers in Uganda?

LBS: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summarises climate change as any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This is equally true in Uganda. Unsustainable utilisation of natural resources and poor technological use has increased incidences of greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, 90 per cent of energy consumption in Uganda is met by firewood, amounting to 18 million tonnes of emissions a year.

The impact of such activity has been increased weather variability, with greater frequency and intensity of weather extremes, including high temperatures leading to prolonged drought and erratic rainfall patterns. These incidences are threatening Uganda’s environmental, social and economic development, including agriculture.

Changing weather patterns in Uganda are making it difficult for farmers in the country to plan using the traditional two planting seasons, which used to be much easier to predict. Previously the weather pattern indicated two good planting seasons, March to May and September to November. Now, however, rainfall sometimes continues during the dry seasons, and prolonged dry spells during rainy seasons make it difficult for farmers to plan ahead.

Other challenges related to climate change include tropical storms, wildfire, siltation, soil erosion, pests and diseases which are causing devastating loss to farmer’s yields.

So there are five main ways that climate change is impacting farming in Uganda: (i) the area suitable for agriculture is becoming unpredictable (ii) the length of the growing season is more difficult to forecast (iii) yield potentials are varying and decreasing (iv) the frequency and severity of extreme events (in particular droughts and floods) are extreme (v) the incidence of plant diseases are high. And, in the case of livestock climate change may affect production through: (i) impacts on the quantity and quality of feed (ii) increasing heat stress (iii) changes to and spread of livestock diseases and (iv) changes in water availability.

FF: Is climate change affecting Uganda’s economy?

LBS: Yes. The National Development Plan 2010-2015 on climatic projections indicates that Uganda’s temperatures are likely to increase in the range of 0.70 C to 1.50 C by 2020. As a consequence, it has placed Uganda in a more vulnerable position. The 2nd UN World Water Development Report 2006 shows that 70 per cent of the disasters in the country are linked to climate change. On average these disasters destroy about 800,000 hectares of crops, with an economic loss in excess of Ushs 120 billion (US$ 63.2million) per year.

Climate change and associated extreme weather incidents have also impacted public health. The 1994 El Niño floods resulted in sharp rises in lakes, wide spread flooding, and extensive soil erosion and landslides in Eastern parts of the country. It’s believed that more than 1,000 lives were lost and 11,000 hospitalised due to cholera and related illness, and about 150,000 people were displaced from their homes.

Meanwhile, the 2010-2011 droughts caused an estimated US$470 million losses in food crops, cash crops and livestock as a whole. This equates to about 16 per cent of the total value of these items in GDP for 2011. The current and future increased risks from flooding and droughts are in areas of existing poverty and therefore these events have serious consequences for local economies and food security.

FF: Are there any tools and technologies that are helping Ugandan farmers to adapt to climate change?

LBS: Yes, they are using more efficient water-management technologies such as advanced drip irrigation and solar irrigation. Agricultural research is also developing other new and effective approaches to adapt to climate change. For example, scientists are studying and using beneficial microbes from soil to strengthen plant resilience to increased drought, diseases and pests brought on by climate change.

Farmers are also actively participating in the collection of climate-related data. The information from millions of smallholders farmers monitoring daily weather changes, rainfall levels and patterns and soil health are shedding light on general climate trends and guiding farming practices.

Lastly, farmers are being advised not to plant on farm land with clogged water and for farmers living in mountainous areas, they are advised to practice terracing and lay farrows to reduce run offs from heavy rains

FF: What are the barriers preventing farmers from accessing these tools and technologies?

LBS: The ability of farmers’ to adapt varies enormously depending on the region and its wealth. Uganda’s farmers often lack basic resources and choices such as money as the adoption of these methods is difficult without access to credit and readily available funds. Millions of farmers in Uganda also lack access to information about the scope of climate level changes they are experiencing. Without such information, they are unable to plan and adjust their farming practices to be sustainable for the long term with new tools and technologies. Social networks among rural farmers always help spread the use of new technology, given the prevelant communal sense among Ugandan farmers. Finally, differences in expected returns from a new technology also affect individual’s adaptation decisions.

FF: Have you met many farmers that are struggling with successfully adapting to climate change?

LBS: In many Ugandan villages, smallholder farmers are struggling to use simple technologies to monitor extreme weather and its impacts on their families and community. They are finding it difficult to detect early indications of changing rainfall patterns that would likely effect the growing season. Secondly, farmers are struggling with how to identify and manage the planting of drought-tolerant crop varieties, exotic breeds and using low cost, simple drip irrigation due to illiteracy and cost management practices.

FF: How is the Ugandan government supporting farmers to adapt to climate change?

LBS: The government of Uganda has come up with priorities for adaptation options. In the National Climate Change Costed Implementation Strategy, the government of Uganda has identified eight strategic interventions for adaptation in the agricultural sector, with a proposed budget over the next 15 years of about US$297 million (MWE, 2012). Among these interventions are the promotion of adaptive crop varieties and livestock breeds, sustainable land management and agricultural diversification.

The government’s meteorological agency, UNMA, has provided and disseminated weather information and forecasts. Farmers are therefore advised to rely on expert advice as to when they should plant for the most favourable climate conditions. The government has also embarked on farmer sensitization and awareness campaigns. For example, experts have promoted the planting of grass on the steps of mountains among farmers living on the slopes of Mountain Elgon in Eastern Uganda and those from Mountain Rwenzori to stop run-offs from heavy rains.

Finally, farmers are being advised to grow quick maturing crops such as vegetables when there is a prediction of prolonged dry spells, and they are further advised to grow cereal crops which are tolerant to drought. NGOs are also helping the government through promotion of new agricultural technologies such as agricultural extension services, which provide farmers with information about agricultural practises, including sowing, adoption of improved seeds and chicken breeds.

FF: Do you think COP22 was indeed a ‘’COP of Action’’?

LBS: Yes, thanks to the Marrakech Proclamation of Climate Action and the Partnership for Global Climate Action as the conference’s main outcomes. The political commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement has been revived in the most ardent fashion with the Marrakech Proclamation.

Writing the rule book, or operational manual, of the Paris Agreement calls for a significant boost of transparency of action, including measuring and accounting emissions reductions, the provision of climate finance, and technology development and transfer. It also includes work to design the adaptation communications, which is the primary vehicle under the Paris Agreement to share individual adaptation efforts and support needs.

FF: What action do you think the global community should be taking?

LBS: Governments should initiate powerful coalitions of public and private partners in technology initiatives for weather. About two thirds of Africans now have mobile phones, including many in rural areas, and these could play an integral part in the collection of weather and soil data. Data collected by farmers on their phones could then be aggregated and analysed by designated research institutions and shared with farmers.

Local governments could also adjust disaster response plans to accommodate changes in weather patterns. For example, the city of Philadelphia recently implemented an emergency response plan to limit the health impact of increasingly frequent heat waves on its population. Philadelphia officials estimate that their heat response plan has already reduced heat-related deaths.

For individuals, governments, and businesses, adapting to climate change requires understanding and accepting the risks of regional climate change, assessing the immediate and long-term costs and benefits of adaptation strategies, and implementing adaptations that bring the most benefits relative to the cost and risk.

Featured image courtesy of Kate Holt/Africa Practice