Smallholder farmers in Nepal will have the opportunity to learn how to adopt climate-smart agricultural and farming techniques through the climate-smart village models pioneered in South Asia by the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
The project features a collaboration between the private sector and research and development organizations to link smallholder farmers to agricultural markets. Moreover, the initiative is meant to inform farmers about various policy and technology options that may increase their agricultural productivity and income and adaptability to climate change, while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
According to a 2013 United Nations report, smallholder farmers play a significant role in food production, and supporting them is a crucial and sustainable way to address global poverty and hunger. The report states that smallholder farmers produce more than 80 percent of the food consumed by those living in developing countries.
A 2011 International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) paper notes that 87 percent of the world’s 500 million smallholder farm households reside in Asia and the Pacific region. Smallholder farmers in the Asian region face a number of challenges that threaten their ability to maintain agricultural productivity and prevent them from adapting to modern agricultural markets. Some of those challenges include poor adaptivity to climate change, insecure land rights, and water quality issues.
“Smallholder farmers hold a massive collective store of experience and local knowledge that can provide the practical solutions needed to put agriculture on a more sustainable and equitable footing,” said Elwyn Grainger Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division. “To place these smallholders at the forefront of a transformation in world agriculture, they need appropriate support to overcome the many challenges they face.”
The agricultural firms involved in the climate-smart village models will teach about 15,000 farmers in Nepal agricultural practices that will help them adapt to climate change. From 2013 to 2017, the firms will host intensive trainings and demonstrations on the climate-smart village models for both farmers participating in the project and farmers from nearby villages. The demonstration plots will serve as learning centers where farmers can develop and hone new climate-smart agricultural expertise through hands-on experience.
Various regions of Nepal have experienced erratic rainfall leading to both frequent droughts and floods. Farmers unprepared for climate change are unable to mitigate the consequences the changing climate will have on the production of major crops—affecting the food security of millions of people.
As climate change has decreased agricultural productivity, men have been forced to migrate to cities or foreign countries to secure better-paying jobs—shifting the onus of tending to agriculture to women. As a result, women make up 60 percent of the agricultural workforce in Nepal. The project also aims to promote gender diversity and address the challenges that women farmers face in adapting to climate change.
The agricultural firms will train extension officer to train local smallholder farmers on climate-smart farming. The extension officers will provide about 500 trainings for rice, maize, and sugarcane farmers through the duration of the project. Additionally, the findings from ongoing climate-smart villages in South Asia will be incorporated into three training manuals that currently are being developed.
The CCAFS South Asia Program has also successfully implemented a climate insurance program—as part of their climate-smart village model—that will provide incentive for smallholder farmers to make investments they would otherwise avoid. The program has already reimbursed several farmers for failed crops—which they will be able to reinvest in new seeds and tools.
“Smallholder farmers can continue to be marginalized or be recognized as catalysts for a transformation of the way the world manages the supply of food and the environmental services that underpin agriculture in the first place,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, in a press release from the UN World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
The success of the models in South Asia has prompted their spread to various South Asian and African countries. CCAFS hopes that the partnership between the private sector and development organizations initiated by the project will eventually provide smallholder farmers long-term access to markets.
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