What Does “Cli­mate-Smart Agri­cul­ture” Re­ally Mean? New Tool Breaks It Down

Weekend Mirror - - CHILDREN’S CORNER - By Des­mond Brown

(IPS) - A Trinida­dian sci­en­tist has de­vel­oped a mech­a­nism for de­ter­min­ing the de­gree of cli­mate-smart agri­cul­ture (CSA) com­pli­ance with re­spect to projects, pro­cesses and prod­ucts. This comes as global att en­tion i s drawn t o cli­mate- smart agri­cul­ture as one of the ap­proaches to mit­i­gate or adapt to cli­mate change.

“It can be used as a pre­lim­i­nary fil­ter to sort t hrough t he num­ber of ‘ green- wash­ing’ projects that may get funded un­der the rubric of cli­mate-smart agri­cul­ture...all in a bid to ac­cess the mil­lions of dol­lars that should go to help small and gen­uinely pro­gres­sive farm­ers.” --Steve Max­i­may

Steve Max­i­may says his Cli­mate-Smart Agri­cul­ture Com­pli­ant ( C- SAC) tool pro­vides a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and au­dit­ing scheme that can be used to com­pare projects, pro­cesses and prod­ucts to jus­tify the ap­pli­ca­bil­ity and quan­tum of cli­mate change fund­ing.

“C- SAC pro­vides a step-by-step, check­list style guide that a trained per­son can use to de­ter­mine how closely the project or process un­der re­view sat­is­fies the five ar­eas of com­pli­ance,” Max­i­may told IPS.

“This method lit­er­ally forces the ex­am­iner to con­sider key as­pects or goals of cli­mate-smart agri­cul­ture. These as­pects (cat­e­gories) are re­source con­ser­va­tion; en­ergy use; safety; bio­di­ver­sity support; and green­house gas re­duc­tion.”

He said each cat­e­gory is fur­ther sub­di­vided, so re­source con­ser­va­tion in­cludes the use of land, water, nu­tri­ents and labour. En­ergy use in­cludes its use in power, light­ing, in­put man­u­fac­ture and trans­porta­tion. Safety re­volves around pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tions, har­vest­ing, stor­age and uti­liza­tion.

Bio­di­ver­sity support ex­am­ines land clear­ing, off- site agro­chem­i­cal im- pact, lim­ited in­tro­duc­tion of in­va­sive species, and ecosys­tem ser­vices im­pact. Green­house gas re­duc­tion in­volves en­teric fer­men­ta­tion ( gas pro­duced in the stom­ach of cat­tle and other an­i­mals t hat chew t heir cud), soil man­age­ment, fos­sil fuel re­duc­tion and ma­nure/waste man­age­ment.

“These sub­di­vi­sions (four each in the five cat­e­gories) are the ba­sis of the 20 questions that com­prise the C-SAC tool,” Max­i­may ex­plained.

“The man­ual pro­vides a means of scor­ing each as­pect on a five-point scale. If the cu­mu­la­tive score for the project is less than 40 it is deemed non- com­pli­ant and not a truly cli­mate smart agri­cul­ture ac­tiv­ity. C- SAC fur­ther grades in terms of de­gree of com­pli­ance wherein a score of 40-49 points is level 1, ( 50- 59) level 2, ( 60 - 69) level 3, (70-79) level 4, and (80-100) be­ing the high­est de­gree of com­pli­ance at level 5.

“It is struc­tured with due cog­nizance of con­cerns about how the global cli­mate change funds will be dis­bursed,” he added.

The United Na­tions ( UN) Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion ( FAO) de­scribes cli­mate- smart agri­cul­ture as agri­cul­ture that sus­tain­ably in­creases pro­duc­tiv­ity, en­hances re­silience (adap­ta­tion), re­duces or re­moves green­house gases ( mit­i­ga­tion) where pos­si­ble, and en­hances achieve­ment of na­tional food se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment goals.

The cli­mate- smart agri­cul­ture con­cept re­flects an am­bi­tion to im­prove the in­te­gra­tion of agri­cul­ture de­vel­op­ment and cli­mate re­spon­sive­ness. It aims to achieve food se­cu­rity and broader de­vel­op­ment goals un­der a chang­ing cli­mate and in­creas­ing food de­mand.

CSA ini­tia­tives sus­tain­ably in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity, en­hance re­silience, and re­duce/re­move green­house gases, and re­quire plan­ning to ad­dress trade­offs and syn­er­gies be­tween these three pil­lars: pro­duc­tiv­ity, adap­ta­tion, and mit­i­ga­tion.

While the con­cept is still evolv­ing, many of the prac­tices that make up CSA al­ready ex­ist world­wide and are used by farm­ers to cope with var­i­ous pro­duc­tion risks.

Main­stream­ing CSA re­quires crit­i­cal stock­tak­ing of on­go­ing and promis­ing prac­tices for the fu­ture, and of i nsti­tu­tional and fi­nan­cial en­ablers for CSA adop­tion.

Max­i­may said C- SAC is meant to be a pri­or­i­tiz­ing tool with a holis­tic in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the per­ceived ben­e­fits of cli­mate- smart agri­cul­ture.

“It can be used as a pre­lim­i­nary fil­ter to sort t hrough t he num­ber of ‘ green- wash­ing’ projects that may get funded un­der the rubric of cli­mate-smart agri­cul­ture…all in a bid to ac­cess the mil­lions of dol­lars that should go to help small and gen­uinely pro­gres­sive farm­ers,” he said.

“C- SAC will pro­vide bankers and project man­agers with an easy to use tool to en­sure funded projects re­ally com­ply with a broad in­ter­pre­ta­tion of cli­mate smart agri­cul­ture.”

Max­i­may said C- SAC in­cor­po­rates ma­jor cat­e­gories of com­pli­ance and pro­vides a repli­ca­ble anal­y­sis ma­trix us­ing scalar ap­proaches to con­vert qual­i­ta­tive as­sess­ments into a numeric com­pli­ance scale.

“The r apid qual­i­ta­tive anal­y­sis at the core of C-SAC de­pends on in­ter­re­lated sci­ence- based guide­lines honed from peer re­viewed, field-tested prac­tices and op­er­a­tions,” Max­i­may ex­plained.

“Cli­mate- smart agri­cul­ture of­ten amal­ga­mates ac­tiv­i­ties geared to­wards adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of projects claim­ing t o fit t he cli­mate smart agri­cul­ture des­ig­na­tion has high­lighted the need for an au­dit­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion scheme. One adap­ta­tion or mit­i­ga­tion fea­ture may not be enough to qual­ify an agri­cul­tur- al op­er­a­tion as be­ing cli­mate-smart. Con­se­quently, a more holis­tic per­spec­tive can lead to a de­ter­mi­na­tion of the level of com­pli­ance with re­spect to cli­mate-smart agri­cul­ture.

“C- SAC pro­vides that holis­tic per­spec­tive based on a struc­tured qual­i­ta­tive assess­ment of key com­po­nents,” Max­i­may added.

The sci­en­tist notes that in the midst of in­creased op­por­tu­ni­ties for the use of global cli­mate funds, it be­hooves pol­i­cy­mak­ers and fi­nanciers to en­sure projects are not crafted in a uni­di­men­sional man­ner.

He added t hat small farm­ers in Small Is­land De­vel­op­ing States are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble and their needs must be met by projects that are holis­tic in de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Over the years, agri­cul­ture or­gan­i­sa­tions in the Caribbean have been pro­vid­ing fund­ing to set up cli­mate-smart farms as demon­stra­tions t o show farm­ers ex­am­ples of eco­log­i­cal prac­tices that they can use to com­bat many of the con­di­tions that arise due to the heavy rain­fall and drought con­di­tions ex­pe­ri­enced in the re­gion.

Max­i­may was among the first agri­cul­tural sci­en­tists ad­dress­ing cli­mate change con­cerns dur­ing the Caribbean Plan­ning for Adap­ta­tion to Cli­mate Change (CPACC).

A plant pathol­o­gist by train­ing, he has been a sec­ondary school teacher, de­vel­op­ment banker, re­searcher, World Bank-cer­ti­fied train­ing man­ager, univer­sity lec­turer, Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank con­sul­tant and en­tre­pre­neur.

Max­i­may man­aged the first Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Of­fice in a Sci­ence Fac­ulty within the Univer­sity of the West Indies. With more than thirty years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the agri­cul­tural, ed­u­ca­tion, health, fi­nan­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal sec­tors, he has also worked on de­vel­op­ment projects for ma­jor re­gional and in­ter­na­tional agen­cies.

The base for a water catch­ment tank. Faced with se­vere droughts, many farm­ers in the Caribbean have found it nec­es­sary to set up catch­ment ar­eas to har­vest water when­ever it rains

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