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Policies and Practices for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative Assessment of Challenges and Opportunities across 15 Countries

Bastos Lima, Mairon G. 2014. Policies and Practices for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative Assessment of Challenges and Opportunities across 15 Countries. . Pretoria: Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)


Climate change is already a reality. The latest assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that global climate change is already damaging crops and undermining food production capacity in much of the world, particularly in poor countries. Negative impacts on crop yields have been more prevalent than positive ones; and even worse, that is often the case for staple foods such as wheat and maize, which feed much of the global population.

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The region is marked by strong dependence on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources, limited infrastructure in rural areas, and high levels of poverty. The region is projected to suffer further water stress, more frequent droughts, floods, and other alteration in rainfall patterns, leading to lower agriculture yields unless adaptation measures are taken. Furthermore, climate change is likely to reduce the land suitable for agriculture, potentially leading to increases in clearing of native forest and pasturelands for crop cultivation, with a consequent significant increase in carbon release. The effects of climate change on African agriculture thus are severe and a major challenge to household livelihoods.

In this context, this study has set out to analyze the barriers and opportunities for promoting climatesmart agriculture (CSA) in sub-Saharan Africa. CSA means agriculture that: (i) increases productivity and income, (ii) adapts and builds resilience to climate change and variability, and (iii) reduces greenhouse gas emissions where possible. This synthesis is based on national scoping studies conducted by local consultants in 15 Eastern and Southern African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Those studies, in turn, were based on literature reviews, policy reviews, and key-informant interviews with multiple stakeholders to assess practices and policies on CSA. This report now analyzes and synthesizes their findings on a regional scale.

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