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African farmers turn to climate-smart agriculture

Farmers in Africa are increasingly embracing climate-smart agriculture, a recently released book has claimed

Evidence of Impact: Climate-Smart Agriculture in Africa was written by researchers from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

At a time when the effects of climate change are being felt across the continent in the form of prolonged dry spells and flooding, climate-smart agriculture aims to increase sustainable food production by supporting farmers’ adaptation to climate change, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the book, one of the key aspects of this theory was the concept of farm-managed natural regeneration.

More than 200mn new trees have been cultivated by farmers in Niger for the purposes of providing fodder, food and fuel, as well as improving soil fertility and reducing crop damage by wind, leading to increased yields in cereals.

A similar project in Malawi has led to the planting of  two million trees to provide households with timber, fruit and fuel wood for domestic use and to provide additional income.

Farmers have also been trained on integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) technologies such as use of nitrogen in fixing trees and shrubs, composting, crop rotation and conservation agriculture.

The East Africa Dairy Development Programme (EADDP) has worked closely with local dairy farmers to improve market access and promote sustainable agricultural practices such as the growing of fodder crops in order to boost milk yields.

Similarly, in the African Sahel region, the integration of trees, crops and livestock has helped to create more drought resilient, productive and sustainable agricultural systems.

Across Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal, the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and Sahel project has led to the restoration of 50,000ha of agroforestry systems boosting the production of crops, gums, resins and fodder for livestock.

In Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco, farmers have been able to access 750,000 fruit tree seedlings and have also been trained to intercrop shrubs and cacti with barley, oats, feed legumes and native vegetation to reduce the cost of feeding livestock, thereby reducing farmers’ dependency on rangelands.

Mwangi Mumero