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Mt. Kilimanjaro Declining Snow Worries The President

BY DAVID MUWANGA, 23 SEPTEMBER 2012

Arusha — Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has decried the country’s changing weather patterns that have resulted into among others the declining snow at Mt. Kilimanjaro.

He said in many parts of Tanzania, temperature has increased by about 0.2 to 0.6 degree centigrade for the past 30 years whose impact is evidenced by the fast decline of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro and the advent of malaria in high altitude temperate regions that were formerly malarias free.

Mount Kilimanjaro which is Africa’s highest peak attracts more than 35,000 annual climbers and the earnings from the total in-country tourists expenditure is averaged at around US$ 50 million (Tsh80 billion/-) per year.

According to the SNV-Overseas Development Institute (ODI) study, the Tsh80 billion/- generated by Mt Kilimanjaro per year, is also a significant economic input in a rural context.

The study found that 28 percent of the tourism earnings from Mt Kilimanjaro which is equivalent to over US$ 13 million or 20.8 billion/- is considered pro-poor expenditure, on that it goes straight into the pockets of local people there.

Funded by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), the ODI study concluded that it was the world’s highest and most successful transfer of resources from international tourists to poor people in the locality.However President Kikwete said the weather patterns have changed significantly, in Tanzania, making rainfall less predictable while droughts have become both frequent in occurrence and last longer compared to few years back.

“When rains come, they do so with vengeance causing floods with accompanying destruction of crops, properties and even lives,’ he said at the closing of a one week 14th session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) held at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).

” Sea levels are rising at alarming pace and several parts of coastal regions are at risk of being sub-merged like the town of Pangani, there are already some parts that are now completely under sea as is the case of Mazwe Island near Pangani,” he said.

He attributed the environmental degradation threats to inappropriate human decisions and actions adding that developing countries particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa are suffering the most for they lack the capacity to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

“The majority of these countries are either poor or marginally above the poverty line, as a result they do not have adequate financial resources, technology and human skills to respond effectively to the challenges,” he added.

“It is important to note that, these countries contribute the least to the serious environment challenges threatening our planet, they contribute minimally to carbon emissions which are responsible for global warming,” he said.

He emphasized that those countries which contribute the most to global carbon emission should bear the biggest burden in the efforts to redress the situation.

“The principle of equitable but differentiated responsibility is both rational and justified, those who pollute more should shoulder a bigger burden of cleaning up and rehabilitating the environment, they also have a responsibility to those who suffer because of their actions and inaction,” he noted.

“Unfortunately, they are not doing enough, whereas they realise and accept responsibility they fall short of taking the right actions at the appropriate time,” he said adding that fortunately, these are countries with the financial resources, technology and skills to do it.

“The only thing that remains wanting on their part is political will. It is this deficit which has made global efforts fails to reach the desired outcomes,’ he said.

 

Source: allAfrica


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U.K. Seeks to Use Climate Funds to Spur Kenyan Geothermal

By Alex Morales on September 26, 2012

The U.K. government plans to spur use of Britain’s green technology and financial expertise for geothermal and wind power projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania by tapping billions of pounds of state funds.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said he will head a trade delegation, including 30 executives from 19 U.K. companies, to the East African countries from Oct. 1 to 5. The markets have the potential to develop more than 15,000 megawatts of geothermal power, as well as wind and hydropower, he said.

The low-carbon industry, including renewable generation and energy efficiency, is expected to be worth 4 trillion pounds ($6.5 trillion) by 2015, the minister said, and he wants London to remain the global center for raising “green finance.”

“There’s a huge opportunity here to use the climate change agenda to drive investment and growth,” Barker said. “I’m looking to identify projects where a small investment of money from the international climate funds can trigger much larger flows of private sector capital into these new markets.”

The U.K. will aim to use its 3 billion-pound International Climate Fund to spur private investment instead of relying only on aid to finance low-carbon generation in Africa. Such plans will help developed nations meet a pledge to increase world climate funding to $100 billion a year from 2020, he said.

Development and green charities say $100 billion is too low to help the poorest countries adapt to the ravages of climate change. Oxfam has said the pledge needs to be doubled, while WWF and Greenpeace have said much of the spending should come from states because private investment flows are too unpredictable.

Aviation Tax

Campaign groups have said an emissions tax on international shipping and aviation would be a potential source of funding.

Bunge Ltd.’s Climate Change Capital, an investor in greenhouse-gas credits, Parhelion Underwriting Ltd., a carbon- credit insurer, the building and engineering consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff Ltd., and Cluff Geothermal Ltd. will join Barker.

Cluff Geothermal Managing Director George Percy said the minister can lobby Kenya to bring more “clarity” to laws and make power-purchase deals less “expensive and time-consuming.”

“We want a more streamlined approach and more clarity from the outset,” Percy said in a phone interview. Cluff is bidding with TransCentury Ltd. (TCL), a Nairobi-based infrastructure company, for a geothermal energy contract in Kenya’s Menengai region.

Kenya has capacity to provide 7,000 to 10,000 megawatts of geothermal energy, mainly in the Rift Valley, the U.K. energy department says. Tanzania could generate 650 megawatts of power from the Earth’s heat, while Ethiopia has the potential for 5,000 megawatts of geothermal energy, 10,000 megawatts of wind power and 45,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity, it says.

China, Japan

“The Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ethiopian governments will probably be more familiar with German, Japanese and Chinese companies in these sectors, and I’m very much going out there in order to put U.K. companies on the map,” Barker said.

Developed nations including the U.K. and U.S. pledged in December 2009 to help raise $100 billion a year from 2020 to finance developments that will cut carbon emissions and help poorer countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

A three-year period that sought to plow $30 billion of so- called fast-start finance into climate projects will end in December, and countries at United Nations climate talks have yet to explain how they’ll ramp up aid to meet the 2020 pledge.

“We’re committed to mobilizing that $100 billion figure but the delivery will come from both public and private sector,” the minister said in the interview. “Smart strategic use of public funds can mobilize a much larger amount.”

Pre-Eminent Center

Gentoo Group Ltd., Temporis Capital LLP, Arup Group Ltd. and Aldwych International Ltd. will also join the delegation. Delegates expect to meet officials including Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and energy and finance ministers from all three nations on the intinerary, according to Barker’s department.

“More money was raised out of London in the last 12 months to fund international renewable projects than any other financial center,” he said. “I want London to continue to be the pre-eminent center for raising that finance.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net.

Source: Bloomberg News


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African Farmers Face Climate Change Threats, More Needs To Be Done, Study Says

By Alister Doyle

OSLO, Sept 7 (Reuters) – African farmers are finding new ways to cope with droughts, erosion and other ravages of climate change but need to develop even more techniques to thrive in an increasingly uncertain environment, scientists said on Friday.

Smallholders have started to plant more drought-resistant and faster-growing crops to keep the harvests coming in, according to a survey of 700 households in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania.

“The good news is that a lot of farmers are making changes,” said Patti Kristjanson, who heads a programme on climate change, agriculture and food security at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi and led the study.

“So it’s not all doom and gloom … but much more needs to be done,” she told Reuters.

Farmers, backed by researchers and international donors, needed to find better ways to store rain water, increase the use of manure and bring in hardier crops like sweet potatoes, she said.

In the past decade, 55 percent of households surveyed said they had taken up faster-growing crop varieties, mainly of maize, and 56 percent had adopted at least one drought-tolerant variety, according to the findings in the journal Food Security.

FIGHTING EROSION

Fifty percent of the households were planting trees on their farms – helping to combat erosion, increase water and soil quality and bring in new crops like nuts.

Half of the farmers had introduced inter-cropping – planting alternate rows of, for instance of beans and maize, in the same field and then swapping the rows next season. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, helping reduce the need for fertilisers.

But Friday’s study found just a quarter of farmers were using manure or compost – avoiding the use of more expensive fertilisers. And only 10 percent were storing water, it added.

The study said that global warming, leading to erosion, less reliable rainfall and changes in the length of growing seasons, was adding to other stresses for farmers worldwide such as price spikes and a rising population.

Kristjanson said the study showed encouraging signs of many farmers’ willingness to adapt.

But faster change may be needed because Africa is especially vulnerable to climate change, according to the U.N. panel of climate scientists which blames heat-trapping emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

In Africa, up to 220 million people could be exposed to greater stress on water supplies by 2020 and yields from rain-fed agriculture in some countries could be cut by up to 50 percent by 2020, according to a 2007 U.N. report. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: Huff Post


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Climate Change: Farmers too hungry to adapt

JOHANNESBURG, 14 September 2012 (IRIN)

A farmer in Tigray, Ethiopia
© Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN

Small farmers in the developing world who are going hungry for long periods of time – in some cases for up to half the year in Ethiopia’s Borana region – are failing to find ways to adapt to an increasingly erratic climate, a new survey has found.

The survey, which was conducted just ahead of the severe drought in East Africa in 2011, interviewed 700 households in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It was designed to develop simple, comparable, cross-site household-level indicators to assess if small farmers were able to diversify, adapt and adopt new farming practices in the face of climate change.

The team of researchers involved in the survey found that households that were food secure for longer periods of time were able to experiment with new farming approaches and techniques, such as planting drought- or flood-tolerant varieties of seeds.

“When you are without food, you cannot really innovate,” said Patti Kristjanson, agricultural economist for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which led the study.” It stands to reason that households struggling to feed their families throughout the year are not in a good position to invest in new practices that include higher costs and risks.”

Not being able to adapt is contributing to food insecurity, she added. “So it is critical that we learn more about both the factors that enable and facilitate innovation, and how to lower the often hidden costs and barriers associated with changing agricultural practices.”

The survey attempted to find out what farmers had been doing for the past 10 years to cope with the changing climate. “We hope to go back for more – this is just a snapshot of what is happening on the ground,” said Kristjanson. Not enough research has been done to find out whether small producers, including pastoralists and fishing communities, were able to incorporate messages and programmes on adapting.

Niger study

The few studies completed reveal that small farmers could be facing a number of simultaneous challenges, driving them into food insecurity. Researchers from the Senegal-based Cheik Anta Diop University have been conducting surveys in Niger’s food insecure Maradi District, where small farmers depend on increasingly erratic rains for their crops.

In 2007, the researchers found that 50 percent of farmers said they were forced to consume their entire produce within three months. In previous years as a back-up they had grown vegetables with the help of water drawn from the Goulbi river. But as rain became scarce and with the construction of an upstream dam in Nigeria, the river, which used to flow for at least six months after the rainy season, was now dry for most of the year.

CCAFS study – mixed results

The CCAFS study of average small farmers in the Horn and East Africa showed relatively poor results in terms of the take up of a more sustainable form of agriculture better able to cope with erratic weather patterns:

- Only 25 percent of households have begun using local manure or compost (good for the soil) rather than expensive chemical fertilizers which can have negative environmental impacts; 23 percent are now mulching;
– Only 16 percent of the surveyed households introduced improved soil management techniques such as terracing which reduce water and soil losses;
– Only 10 percent have begun trying to store or manage agricultural water;
– Only 34 percent have reduced livestock herd sizes but 48 percent are managing their resources better, for example by growing crops for animal feed.

More positively, the study indicated that:

- 55 percent of households have taken up at least one shorter-cycle crop variety, and 56 percent adopted at least one drought-tolerant variety;
– 50 percent of households are planting trees on their farms, a practice known as agroforestry. These trees help stabilize eroding landscapes, increase water and soil quality, and provide yields of fruit, tea, coffee, oil, fodder, medicinal and energy products;
-50 percent introduced intercropping – alternating different plants on the same plot; – 25 percent started rotating their crops in the last decade.

“These changes can help farmers adjust to changing weather patterns; and better diets can also lower methane emissions [from animals] per kilogram of meat and milk produced,” said CCAFS in a statement.

CCAFS researchers acknowledge that climate change is only one of several key driving forces behind the changes seen and “it is very difficult to disentangle the relative importance of different driving forces.”

They noted that the changes made by households in the past 10 years “tend to be marginal, rather than transformational, and the lack of uptake of well-tested and widely-disseminated soil, water and land management practices is cause for concern.”

In a statement accompanying the findings, Bruce Campbell, the CCAFS programme director, said: “Farmers need more than words. They need innovative strategies that will help them adapt to the increased demand brought on by climate change and other factors. We need to redouble efforts to ensure not just their current and future food security but the rest of the world’s as well.”

Campbell highlighted Rio+20 as a prime example of this trend. “The final text for Rio+20 recognized the connections between sustainable agriculture, smallholder farmers and food security, but lacked concrete commitments or a plan of action. We urge national leaders to embrace these challenges and safeguard global food security by helping farmers face a changing climate.”

Strength in numbers

A publication released earlier this year by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) entitled Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security, used 35 case studies to show how institutions such as farmer cooperatives had innovated in groups to benefit poor farmers who lack the services and support to innovate.

“For instance, input shops in Niger have enabled small producers to develop effective local input markets by grouping input demand and supplying them in quantities and types that are adapted specifically to their needs and limited financial capacities,” said the publication.

Kenya’s African leafy vegetable farmers have in some cases organized themselves into groups to be able to enter into contractual arrangements with supermarkets and ensure food quantity, quality and timely delivery arrangements.

jk/cb

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Source: Irin


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Tanzania embracing genetic engineering

14th September 2012

By Devotha Mwachang’a

Hon. Mohamed Muya

Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives has started using genetic engineering to ‘modify’ seeds and control diseases that inhibit crop growth.

The announcement was made by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Mohamed Muya at a news conference in Dar es Salaam.

Genetic engineering, used to produce genetically modified organisms (GMO) in agriculture and other fields, has led to an increase in crop yield globally.

“The ministry believes that the use of genetic engineering could help in combating the agricultural challenges caused by climate change such as drought, infection and harmful pets which among other things need insecticides to control them…” he said.

The government, through the ministry, will continue to improve research and further adopt new technology to employ genetic engineering. Permanent Secretary Muya acknowledged that there are as he put it ‘misled and misinformed and even at times sheer speculative notions as to the side effects of the technology and in recognition of the fact announced that the government will embark on a sensitizing and information campaign.

Side effects feared include, damage of biodiversity, increased toxins and allergies, harmful to both human and other creatures’ health, uncontrollable weeds and pest and disease developing resistant.

In another development, Muya assured Tanzanians that the ministry’s intention is not to give the investors from other countries a chance to import harmful chemicals but rather the very contrary to improve Tanzanian productivity and national income and subsequently income per capita.

In giving a tangible example of the technology’s ‘good use’ , Principal Agricultural Research Officer and the officer in charge of Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute, Dr Joseph Ndunguru revealed that Tanzania has succeeded to control diseases affecting cassava ( a major staple food of great national value) this through the use of genetic engineering.

“We used the genetic engineering technology to protect the different types of cassava including Lushura from Kagera, Gago from Tanga…” he said.

That is all very well but the peoples fear is at the very least understandable for with genetic engineering the possibilities are infinite here is an extract from science futurist site globalchange.com Genetic engineering is the alteration of genetic codes by artificial means and is therefore different from traditional selective breeding.

Genetic engineering examples include taking the gene that programs poison in the tail of a scorpion, and combining it with a cabbage. These genetically modified cabbages kill caterpillars because they have learned to grow scorpion poison (insecticide) in their sap.

Genetic engineering also includes insertion of human genes into sheep so that they secrete alpha-1 antitrypsin in their milk – a useful substance in treating some cases of lung disease.

If that is not enough try envisioning this, Genetic engineering has created a chicken with four legs and no wings. I will remind you this is not from some fiction story but real life and with such great possibilities comes greater responsibility and what Tanzanians want is comprehensive checks and balance, transparency and accountability.

Source: The Guardian


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Maps used to convey relationship between rainfall and ‘human vulnerability’ in 8 countries

September 11, 2012

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) has worked closely with CARE and the United Nations University to develop a series of maps illustrating results from case studies in eight countries for the Where the Rain Falls project. The project aims to illustrate the relationship between rainfall variability and human vulnerability in the context of a changing climate, livelihoods, and migration as a strategic response. The map of northern Tanzania featured here illustrates these interrelationships. Located in Eastern Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania has an area of about 945,000 square kilometers (about the size of Texas and New Mexico combined) with a population of about 46 million people in 2012.

Tanzania’s long-term economic growth is dependent on its many natural resources, including wildlife, forestry, fisheries, mining, land, and water.  Three-quarters of the population is employed in the agricultural sector. The frequency and severity of droughts, floods, and storms are projected to increase globally, based on our understanding of climate change, and this is likely to affect agricultural production, food security, and gross domestic product (GDP) in the country. In addition, national efforts to address poverty and attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may be undermined by climate variability and extreme weather events. The impact that climate variability has on predominantly rain-fed agrarian economies can be seen in Tanzania, where GDP is closely tied to variations in rainfall.

About half of Tanzania’s GDP comes from agricultural production (including livestock), the majority of which is rain-fed and highly vulnerable to droughts and floods.  Thus both farmers and herders are highly dependent on the climate for their livelihoods. Field research for Where the Rain Falls in Tanzania was conducted in three villages (Bangalala, Ruvu Mferejini and Vudee) in the Same District of the Kilimanjaro Region. Although the three villages reflect a wide range of agricultural and climatic conditions in the upland and lowland areas of the Pangani Basin (see Google map images to the right in the map), residents share a high degree of dependence on crop and livestock production for their livelihoods. Local agriculture, in turn, is highly reliant on local rainfall, either directly or via local irrigation systems (including ndiva, micro-dams based on the concept of traditional local water reservoirs), which show a high degree of variability and unpredictability. Residents are therefore very worried about the degradation of the local environment brought on by recurrent droughts, continuing population growth, lack of enforcement of laws against logging, and other destructive practices in critical watersheds. In the insets on the left side of the map, we can see that this region, with 600–700mm of precipitation a year, has barely enough rainfall to support agriculture in a tropical climate zone. When rainfall falls much below this level—as occurs periodically—rainfed crops will fail.

In the middle inset we see where the areas with greatest land coverage of rainfed agriculture (26-100%) are located; and in the bottom inset, that maize, rice, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, and sisal are the staple crops. Further to the north, in one of the migration destination areas (Moshi), there is a high concentration of irrigated agriculture, mostly sisal production. Across the three villages, research participants perceived a number of significant changes in rainfall patterns over recent decades. Most significant were: a shortening of the growing season; increased frequency of dry spells during the rainy season; and more frequent heavy storms. In addition, higher temperatures and stronger winds are seen as exacerbating local water scarcity. Although an analysis of 60 years of local rainfall data does not show a statistically significant negative trend in total annual rainfall, it does provide evidence to support a number of negative changes in rainfall patterns over the last 20–30 years, including: a decline in Masika season (March-May) and total annual rainfall; a reduced number of rainy days and longer dry spells during the rainy season; and early cessation of rains. The data also provide dramatic examples of the unpredictability of rainfall, with several cases of extremely low annual rainfall followed by years of very high rainfall.

Under the conditions that prevail in Same District, changes in rainfall patterns translate directly into impacts on crop and livestock production and food security. Water scarcity is the most commonly identified problem by the residents of this area, and research participants consistently identified drought as the biggest threat to their livelihoods. Given the dearth of alternative local off-farm employment opportunities, migration is a very important risk management strategy for households in these villages.  Migration patterns vary across the three villages, but seasonal migrants outnumber those migrating for more than six months. Although the largest migration flows seem to be to another rural area,  rural-to-urban migration is also seen, with nearly one-third of survey respondents identifying Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, as the most common destination. The elderly and women with young children are most likely to be left behind, weakening their support system and increasing their labor, so they are likely to be the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of rainfall variability on household food security.

More information: Direct links to maps for all countries included in the research can be found at wheretherainfalls.org/the-study/maps/ and to an interactive map viewer, customized for each of the countries, at beta.ciesin.columbia.edu/care-mapclient.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-convey-relationship-rainfall-human-vulnerability.html#jCp

Source: PhysOrg


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Survey finds adaptation to climate change on smallholder farms taking root

Survey finds adaptation to climate change on smallholder farms taking root September 7, 2012 Smallholder farmers across East Africa have started to embrace climate-resilient farming approaches and technologies, according to new research recently published by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). At the same time, the survey evidence suggests that many of the changes in farming practices are incremental, rather than transformative in nature, and that high levels of food insecurity prevent many from making all of the changes needed in order to cope with a changing climate. The study—released one year after East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years hit its peak—is based on a survey of over 700 farming households in four East African countries carried out by CCAFS, part of a larger effort covering 5,040 households in 252 villages across 36 sites in 12 countries in East Africa, West Africa and South Asia. It appeared online before publication in the journal Food Security. “For generations, farmers and livestock keepers in East Africa have survived high levels of weather variability by testing and adopting new farming practices. As this variability increases, rainfall patterns shift, and average temperatures rise due to climate change, they may need to change faster and more extensively,” said Patti Kristjanson, a CCAFS Theme Leader who co-led the comprehensive study and works at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). “We are seeing that agricultural diversification strategies are key to improved household well-being,” Kristjanson added. “Improved access to good crop, livestock, soil, land and water management information and options for different environments is needed now more than ever.” The survey found that farmers have embraced a wide range of strategies to improve crop production: 55 percent of households have taken up at least one shorter-cycle crop variety, and 56 percent adopted at least one drought tolerant variety. These practices help farmers work around periods of heat and water scarcity. 50 percent of households are planting trees on their farms, a practice known as agroforestry. These trees help stabilize eroding landscapes, increase water and soil quality, and provide yields of fruit, tea, coffee, oil, fodder, medicinal and energy products. 50 percent introduced intercropping—alternating different plants in the same plot—and 25 percent started rotating their crops during the last decade. These and other techniques help maintain and improve soil fertility and enhance crop yields. Other proven agricultural productivity improvement strategies have yet to take root widely, however, as the findings show that: Only 25 percent of households have begun using manure or compost and 23 percent are now mulching. These techniques help improve soil and alleviate the need for more costly practices, such as applying petroleum-based fertilizer. 16 percent of the surveyed households have introduced improved soil management techniques such as terracing, building ridges or other techniques that reduce water and soil organic matter losses. 10 percent have begun trying to store or manage agricultural water. As demands on fresh water resources multiply, farmers need to embrace ways in which they effectively use what they have, for example through rainwater harvesting. In livestock management, farmers have implemented a number of methods to improve productivity and reduce emissions: 34 percent have reduced livestock herd sizes and 48 percent are managing their resources better, for example by growing crops for animal feed. These changes can help farmers adjust to changing weather patterns; and better diets can also lower methane emissions per kg of meat and milk produced. One-third of agropastoral households in Ethiopia, and one-fifth in Tanzania are managing pasture lands better— actions such as planting better forage varieties and fencing off grazing areas. According to researchers, these changes will be key to feeding livestock in a changing climate, as well as, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but few in Kenya and Uganda have adopted such practices. Food insecurity remains a barrier to climate adaptation According to the study, a key factor that limited adaption is food insecurity. Farm families at all five study sites had to confront this issue; they faced food deficits on average for two months in Nyando, Kenya, and for more than half the year in Borana, Ethiopia. “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? It stands to reason that households struggling to feed their families throughout the year are not in a good position to invest in new practices that include higher costs and risks,” said Kristjanson. “Yet not adapting is certainly contributing to food insecurity. Food insecurity means lower adaptive capacity to deal with all kinds of change.” “So it is critical that we learn more about both the factors that enable and facilitate innovation, and how to lower the often hidden costs and barriers associated with changing agricultural practices,” she added. This survey of African smallholder farmers is part of systematic effort by CCAFS to better understand the levels of food security among smallholder households, what actions and adaptation strategies farmers have already been pursuing, what information they are getting and how they are using it, and what services they have been receiving. “CCAFS is interested in identifying and evaluating the trade-offs farmers face as they attempt to deal with risks from increasing climate variability. While warmer temperatures can in fact increase yields for some crops—particularly in the tropics—the overall implications of climate change for food security for families and the region as a whole is an immense concern,” said James Kinyangi, CCAFS’ regional program leader for East Africa. Thinking globally with a need to act locally Two overarching statistics were often cited in the lead-up to the recently concluded United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20: the world population is expected to surge past nine billion by the year 2050, and food production has to increase by 70 percent by then to keep pace, while reducing its emissions footprint. But the potential of international forums like Rio+20 to tackle these challenges has not been reached. “In the past year, many speeches and reports talked about the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population,” said Bruce Campbell, CCAFS’ program director. “Farmers need more than words. They need innovative strategies that will help them adapt to the increased demand brought on by climate change and other factors. We need to redouble efforts to ensure not just their current and future food security but the rest of the world’s as well.” Campbell highlighted Rio+20 as a prime example of this trend. “The final text for Rio+20 recognized the connections between sustainable agriculture, smallholder farmers and food security, but lacked concrete commitments or a plan of action. We urge national leaders to embrace these challenges and safeguard global food security by helping farmers face a changing climate.” In response, new CGIAR research efforts have been launched with local communities and organizations that will encourage more widespread embrace of improved agricultural practices. These initiatives include: Making hundreds of climate-resilient local crop varieties readily available to farmers who are testing them in their fields. For example, women farmers in a pilot project in Ethiopia are helping determine which varieties they prefer, choosing from a range of varieties that could best cope with future conditions. Insuring livestock farmers against drought. An index-based livestock insurance partnership between the International Livestock Research Institute, Equity Bank and UAP Insurance uses satellite imagery to determine losses of livestock forage and issues payouts to participating herders when incidences of drought occur. This program is different from all others because it does not pay clients based on the actual loss of their livestock assets, but rather on indicators that the animals are at risk of death. Using SMS messaging and other innovative approaches to deliver weather forecasts (including better seasonal forecasts) and market data to farmers, who can benefit from current and detailed information to determine when to plant, water, fertilize, harvest their crops and increase their yields. Tapping into new global carbon markets to generate rewards to small-scale farmers, particularly women, for their on-farm tree planting efforts across East Africa. Provided by CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-survey-climate-smallholder-farms-root.html#jCp

 

Source: PhysOrg

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