Monday, 19 March 2012

Farmers: It’s Time to Adopt Climate Smart Agriculture

How has climate change affected your life? No, I don’t mean all that stuff you read in the papers about climate change and how we are all going to die in a few years if we do not change our ways! That may be true but that’s a topic for another day.  Right now I would like to hear how climate change has affected you personally.

While you are thinking about that, there is one group of people whose lives will never be the same again due to climate change: the farmers.  For instance, my grandmother, Grace, is a farmer in a remote part of Kenya. She has been a farmer for more than 50 years and for a long time, she thought she knew all she needed to know about farming. After all, she has over 50 years of experience.

The last time I spoke to her, she was at a loss. She can no longer produce enough food for herself leave alone for her family. In her words, “It doesn’t rain like it used to and the sun doesn’t shine like it used to. Everything has changed.” When I last spoke to her, all I could do was listen because I didn’t have a solution for her. 
However, the Cop 17 conference in Durban Came and went and suddenly there was a new buzz word all over the internet: Climate Smart Agriculture. Climate Smart Agriculture is  a relatively simple climate change adaptation concept that involves farmers changing their agricultural practices to fit new precipitation patterns as  well as diversifying their livelihood strategy so that they aren’t  solely dependent on agriculture.

So we know what the problem is i.e. the lack of food security and we know the solution i.e. climate smart agriculture. It’s now time to act. A time has come when farmers must adopt new agricultural practices and diversify their livelihoods by engaging in non-agricultural activities.  It’s no longer enough for farmers, especially small scale farmers like my grandmother to rely purely on agriculture for their livelihood. If we want to achieve food security, we cannot continue to do things like we did in the past and expect different results.