The changing global climate presents the most serious challenge to agriculture. Africa’s agriculture will be heavily impacted by climate change. Smallholder farming communities in Kisumu County are already contending with shifting growing conditions for crops as a result of climate change and variability.
How then can we make agricultural outcomes better and smarter, even in the face of a changing climate? How can we improve smallholder agriculture sustainably while building resilience to climate change and reduce emissions? The answer is Climate Smart Agriculture.
Why – What is Climate Smart Agriculture?
Climate Smart Agriculture; is the set of practices and/or technologies that help farmers to increase their yields, adapt and where possible lessen the impact to the changing climate. climate smart agriculture presents a most viable means for improving agricultural outcomes for smallholder farmers.
Despite the emerging interest in Climate Smart Agriculture, there is a lag in the skill set and technologies needed by smallholders and agripreneurs to improve agricultural outcomes. The gap exists because key ingredients are missing: climate smart agriculture practices, information, technologies, capacity and access to markets. Each of these has the potency to transform agricultural outcomes for smallholder farmers. Together they have the potential to transform Africa’s agriculture, economy and society. At Eco-frontier we believe that climate smart agriculture could help rekindle agricultural growth in Africa. But only if we close the gaps—and fast.
My name is Teddy Odindo, a 31-year-old agripreneur and climate change adaptation practitioner. I am a co-founder of Eco-Frontier Climate Smart Agriculture Resource Center, a one stop technology, information, learning and demonstration center for climate smart agriculture technologies and practice.
Eco-frontier is built on the belief that there is a critical need for products and services aimed at conserving the environment, tackling climate change and improving food security and livelihoods.
The Eco-frontier climate smart agriculture resource center is located in Kisumu County which emerges as a hotspot for climate change impacts. The county performs below the national average on most socio-economic indicators. While the majority of the population derive their livelihoods from fishing and agricultural activities, poverty is prevalent in the county and manifests itself in other socio-economic outcomes such as poor nutrition, health, and education, as well as a lack of access to basic services. The main sources of livelihood in Kisumu County, smallholder agriculture and fishing are significantly sensitive to climate change. Unemployment is also major challenge in the county, especially among the youth. Eco-frontier responded to the needs of smallholders by investing in tested and proven approaches for improving agricultural outcomes as a climate change adaptation strategy.
As a social and environment enterprise Eco-Frontier has always had a strong social dimension. Very early we recognize that our responsibility to smallholder farmers extend beyond that of securing immediate financial benefits. That is why we have made our center open to the wider community. We however work with a few select farmers to grow high value crops such as passion fruit, tree tomatoes and ginger which we aggregate and sell to the urban markets. To date we have contracted 5 farmers giving us access to a total acreage of 4 to grow a variety of high value crops that are targeted at the urban markets.
Imagine the potential of community based resource centers that serves the specific needs of smallholder farmers through provision of information and capacity building on climate smart agriculture. It has the potential for reducing vulnerability to food and livelihood insecurity for smallholder farmers as a result of climate change. That is the vision that we are pursuing.
When we began running the climate smart agriculture resource center we wanted to respond to the information and technology needs of smallholder farmers. Today the center has transformed into an empowerment center that provides holistic climate smart products and services to smallholder farmers. By far the provision of targeted climate information and agro-advisories has been our most popular service to farmers. This attests to the information gaps that exists within the smallholder farmer communities.
Eco-frontier plans to provide access to climate services and technologies to 1,000 smallholder farmers the coming year. Especially important to us is the engagement of disenfranchised youth by providing information, proven technologies and opportunities to engage in agribusiness.
These services and technologies have the potential for directing the planning and utilization of investments and the decision making that is required for climate-resilient development. With this in mind Eco-frontier is looking toward expanding its horizons in other smallholder farmer communities to reach traditionally marginalized members of the community.
As we scale up our operations, there is a clear need to aggressively build depth and breadth in the emerging climate smart agriculture space among smallholder farmers. To build our vision Eco-Frontier climate smart agriculture resource center will put to use the USD 5,000 grant in the following ways.
USD 2000 will be for purchasing and development of resource materials for climate smart agriculture practice, including soil management techniques, rainwater capture, storage and management and agroforestry practice. USD 1000 will be used to source for high quality fruit tree seedlings to enhance agroforestry practice amongst smallholder farmers. USD 1000 will be utilized on improving our data capture systems to include mobile based data collection toolkits. USD 500 will be used to train our staff on monitoring and evaluation and finally USD 500 will be utilized in improving our irrigation demonstration facility.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Teddy Odindo (Kenya) – teddy[at]ecofrontier.co.ke
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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