According to food agriculture organization (FAO), by 2050 approximately 70% more food will have to be produced to feed growing populations, particularly in developing countries. Agriculture is a main cause of increased conversion of land, placing greater pressure on biological diversity and natural resources and functions than ever before. Climate change has further worsened the situation, having negative effects like flooding and droughts which results in reduction in food production and food insecurity. This mainly and adversely affects the small scale farmers and small scale agricultural productions.
Climate-smart agriculture however, maybe the solution to ensure increased sustainable food production and also mitigate climate change. FAO describes climate-smart agriculture as that which sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes greenhouse gases (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals. The climate smart practices not only work in large scale but also small scale agricultural production. The practices useful in small scale production include; agroforestry practices, crop, livestock, soil and water management and use of clean energy.
Crop management entails: Intercropping with legumes, example beans and peas, which are nitrogen fixing an important plant nutrient and also having crop diversity, which also increases nutrient diversity in the soil. Crop rotation should also be widely practiced as well as planting of new better crop varieties. Crop management also entails improved storage and processing techniques, example use solar power to dry instead of paraffin or wood fuel, or use of organic preservation methods.
Livestock management entails: Improved feeding strategies e.g. cut ’n carry and rotational grazing. Grassland restoration and conservation is also a way of improving production, since it ensures sustainable fodder for your livestock. Treatment of manure will greatly reduce emission of methane gas, an important greenhouse gas and in turn be a source of clean, green and cheap energy. It is also good to ensure your livestock are in good health.
Soil and water management entail: Conservation agriculture which will be beneficial to both you and the environment. Contour planting as well as terraces and bunds are encouraged to minimize or avoid soil erosion. Also good and sustainable water storage practices like water pans, rooftop rainwater harvesting, go a long way in ensuring long term water availability and improved irrigation. Proper irrigation practices that do not waste water should also be widely practiced to ensure no water wastage.
Agroforestry as a climate smart practice entails: planting of boundary trees and hedgerows around the farm, planting nitrogen-fixing trees on farms and also multipurpose trees. The trees not only act as carbon sinks (hence combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere) but also provide shade for your crops hence sheltering them from harsh sunlight. Their leaves act as mulch and humus when they fall on the ground, further increasing soil fertility, roots hold soil particles together preventing soil erosion and they also provide diversity of food sources through tree based products. Fruit orchards triple up not only in combating climate change, but are also a food source and an income source.
Climate- smart agriculture practices also include use of clean energy like biogas, which can easily be produced from animal and farm wastes, this will replace use of wood fuel and hence greatly help in maintaining a good tree cover. Another smart practice is use of energy saving stoves that use as little charcoal as possible hence saving forest covers. Climate- smart agriculture if well adapted will be the key to having a food secure future as well as a climate stable one. Each action counts.