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Smallholder adaptive responses to seasonal weather forecasts

A case study of the 2015/16 El Niño Southern Oscillation in Zambia












Maggio, G. Sitko, N.J., & Ignaciuk, A.2018. Smallholder adaptive responses to seasonal weather forecasts. A case study of the  2015/16 El Niño Southern Oscillation in Zambia. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Paper 19-07. Rome, FAO.



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    Using seasonal forecasts to support farmer adaptation to climate risks
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    The brief uses a unique set of data from Zambia collected from smallholders before and after the 2015/2016 ENSO event, which was widely anticipated by regional and global forecast services to contribute to dry conditions in southern Zambia and an overall shorter growing season. Three findings emerge from the analysis. Farmers receiving seasonal weather forecasts are more likely to adopt cropping systems and seed varieties that are adapted to the expected weather conditions, yet access to weather information remains limited. Access to competitive private markets increases the probability that a farmer will adopt drought tolerant cropping systems and improved seeds in response to an adverse seasonal forecast. Policies that attract private investment in smallholder markets can improve farmers’ adaptive response to anticipated weather events.
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    Climate-Smart Agriculture in Guinea-Bissau 2019
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    The climate smart agriculture (CSA) 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 (GHGs), and require planning to address trade-offs and synergies between three pillars: productivity, adaptation and mitigation. The priorities of different countries and stakeholders are reflected to achieve more efficient, effective, and equitable food systems that address challenges in environment, social, and economic dimensions across productive landscapes. The country profile provides a snapshot of a developing baseline created to initiate discussion, both within countries and globally, about entry points for investing in CSA at scale. The agricultural sector is the main stay of the economy of Guinea-Bissau. In the absence of other resources, the sector despite being underdeveloped plays a leading role in supporting food security and job creation. Presently it contributes about 46% of national gross domestic product (GDP) with 84% of the population actively employed in primary production agriculture largely dominated by women. The majority of these farmer are small scale farmers farming on less than two hectare (2 ha). More than half (58%) of the total land in Guinea-Bissau is used for agriculture with area under forest heavily degraded by rapid exploitation. However, there are huge potentials for agricultural and forestry land including arable land estimated at about 1.5 million hectares. Farmers engage in the production of diverse crops and livestock such as cashew, rice (country’s staple food), sorghum, maize, etc largely cultivated by subsistence farmers. Women usually take up horticulture in the urban areas. Livestock production concentrated mainly in the north and east of the country is one of the main economic activities supporting food security and thousands of livelihoods. The country is divided into three agroecological zones based on ecological, climatic and demographic characteristics. Agriculture is mainly rainfed with very limited irrigated farming practised. About 82% of water withdrawn is used for agricultural purposes impelling a necessity for huge investments in irrigation to support agriculture production. The projected population growth and food demand is expected to have serious implications on food security with a potential to affect the agricultural sector. Despite the agro-forestry-pastoral potential and fisheries resources of Guinea-Bissau, many studies have shown that, the current food situation in the country is very precarious with poverty identified as the underlining cause. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from the agricultural sector has been identified as very high with the country indicating reforestation as the major action for mitigating GHG emissions in its nationally determined contribution (NDC). Some challenges for the agricultural sector identified include (i) growth in population and food demand, (ii) land use change and natural resource depletion, (iii) limited marketing opportunities of agricultural commodities, and (iv) climate change and variability. Guinea-Bissau has a typical hot, humid monsoon-like tropical climate with two well-defined seasons. Agriculture is exposed to the effects of climate change with the country vulnerable to droughts, floods and sea level rise. The projected changes in temperature and rainfall are expected to have substantial impact on water resources which are already limited in their capacity to provide sufficient water for the agriculture sector. CSA technologies and practises present opportunities for addressing climate change challenges as well as for economic growth and development of the agriculture sector. Identified CSA practises in use in the country include (i) use of organic manure, (ii) use of weather information, (iii) water supply through drip irrigation, (iv) anti-erosion arrangement, (v) forage/fodder production, (vi) crop rotation, and (vii) rainwater harvesting through the Zai technique. There are a number of institutions and policies aimed at supporting and increasing agriculture productivity and advancing CSA practises in Guinea-Bissau. These include government, private sector, the national institute for agrarian research and general directorate of rural engineering with each most of the institutions profiles having CSA-related activities that deliver on all three pillars of CSA. The Ministry of environment which serves as the country’s UNFCCC focal point and Nationally Designated Authority to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation fund, Climate Investment Fund and Global Environment Facility is responsible for the country’s climate change plans and policies. The food and agriculture organisation of the United Nations, the United Nations development programme and the international union for conservation of nature play instrumental roles in the promotion of sustainable agriculture and environmental sustainability. Most of the climate change and CSA-related funding have come from international sources with the UNDP being of great support through its signature programmes.
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    Cropping system diversification in Eastern and Southern Africa: Identifying policy options to enhance productivity and build resilience 2018
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    Crop diversification is an important policy objective to promote climate change adaptation, yet the drivers and impacts of crop diversification vary considerably depending on the specific combinations of crops a farmer grows. This paper examines adoption determinants of seven different cropping systems in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, and the impact of their adoption on maize productivity and income volatility – using a multinomial endogenous treatment effect model. These cropping systems consist in different combinations of four categories of crops: dominate staple (maize), alternative staples, legumes, and cash-crops. The study finds that relative to maize mono-cropping systems, the vast majority of systems have either neutral or positive effects on maize productivity, and either reduce or have neutral effects on crop income volatility. In particular, cropping systems that include legumes produce better outcome in most cases than those that feature cash crops. From a policy perspective, three recurrent determinants of diversification are found. First, private sector output market access is an important driver of diversification out of maize mono-cropping. Policies crowding in private output market actors can help to promote a wide range of more diverse cropping systems. Second, proximity to public marketing board buying depots discourages the adoption of more diverse cropping systems. Therefore, reforms to these institutions must be part of any diversification strategy. Finally, in all countries and for all systems, land size is a key determinant of adopting more diverse systems. Thus, land policy is an integral element of any boarder diversification strategy.

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