Annual Report
2015 - 2016

Climate-Smart Agriculture: Turning commitments into action

At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, COP 21, four-fifths of UN member states included agriculture in their commitments to tackle climate change. The next step is for countries to turn these into specific action plans for climate-smart agriculture (CSA).

CSA Country Profiles can help with this, providing a quick and easy way to see the challenges and opportunities for CSA. These landmark studies were initially produced by CIAT and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), with funding from the World Bank and technical support from the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in 2014. They show how different investments in agriculture can achieve combinations of climate change adaptation, mitigation and sustainable production.

The CSA country profiles have sparked huge interest with donors, research institutes, governments and policy advisers around the world. They provide a rapid appraisal of a country’s options for mainstreaming CSA, from policies, to institutional set-ups, financing structures and on-the-ground actions. They are best used at the beginning of planning processes, giving decision-makers, amongst other things, information on best-bet CSA investments.

Andreea Nowak

CSA Country Profiles Project Leader

In 2015, profiles were released for Nicaragua, Uruguay, Kenya, Rwanda and Sri Lanka; these complement several produced for Latin America in 2014. More are on the way in 2016, as CIAT and CCAFS work with support from USAID to profile six sub-Saharan African countries: Mali, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Uganda. This year should also see work begin on the first European profile – Moldova, with World Bank support.

CSA_in_Kenya.pdf_ CSA_in_Rwanda.pdf_ CSA_in_Sri_Lanka.pdf_ CSA_in_Uruguay.pdf_

Who should pay for CSA?

Once countries have refined their COP21 plans, financing them will be a major issue. The United Nations has its Green Climate Fund, which hopes to raise USD$100 billion by 2020 to help finance climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. There are many CSA-friendly donors too, as the Country Profiles highlight.

But in a world where many farmers, including smallholders, are often part of larger – sometimes international – value chains, private companies in these chains have a vested interest in the resilience of the farms that supply them. It seems reasonable that they share the cost of, for example, a new irrigation system or the switch to a drought tolerant crop.

These are the kinds of issues that a new project from USAID, which leads the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, hopes to shine a light on. Launched at the end of 2015, the project has established a “learning community” involving famers and agribusiness. This will be led by CIAT, the Sustainable Food Lab, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and social investment fund Root Capital. It aims to build the business case for private sector investment in CSA.

It’s no coincidence it will start off by focusing on the coffee and cocoa sectors. These are two high-value crops that are largely grown by smallholders and expected to take a hit from climate change. Coffee and cocoa are also well-known, internationally-traded commodities with big markets in the wealthy world. But there’s another reason for starting the conversation with these crops:

“A major draw of working with the coffee and cocoa sectors is that many of the companies involved are already familiar with the language of supply chain responsibility and sustainability,” says CIAT’s Mark Lundy, who leads the Center’s work on linking farmers to markets. “The question now is what do companies in these supply chains need to do to maintain a profitable and resilient base for their products in the face of climate change?”

Embedding CSA in existing supply chain structures is just one option; as the conversation grows it is likely to uncover more possibilities, depending on the crops and production systems, the regions and the markets involved. A complementary project already underway from CCAFS, CIAT, IITA, Root Capital, Rainforest Alliance and the Sustainable Food Lab looks at additional ways to leverage the influence of private companies through their promotion of climate-smart agronomy to farmers in their value chains.

With the need for CSA now firmly on the radar in international policy circles, CIAT and its partners’ work is helping countries turn their commitments for responding to climate change into practical solutions.